Cuban Salsa: Why are left turns called Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola is one of a handfuld of dance terms used or known by most of us. Why are left turns called Coca-Cola? Before we answer this question, let us take a closer look at the use of left turns in Casino, Cuban Salsa. They are surprisingly rare! I have analysed thousands of videos of social dancing, and in half of them, we don’t find a single left turn!

How is it possible that so many Leads can dance without the use of left turns? One reason is of cause that they use Enchufla a lot, and Enchufla is half a left turn. Enchufla is by far the most common figure in Cuban Salsa, it is often used several times in one move.

Turning motion

Another reason why left turns are surprisingly rare is that Cuban Salsa has a dominant right turning circular motion that favours right turns. The Follow steps forward on “1” making it easy to start travelling Three Step Right Turns on “1” and “3” and occasionally on “5”.

Three Step Left turns as part of right turning motions are also possible but they don’t feel like the most natural thing to do starting on “2”, “5” or “7″.

Why Coca-Cola?

Let me answer the question with an educated guess. In Rueda de Casino Dile Que No is used as the standard way to end most Casino Rueda Moves, and it is very common for variation, to add the call “con Coca-Cola”, “with Coca-Cola”, in order to spice Dile Que No up with an inside left turn as the last half of Dile Que No, on “5-6-7”.

In the early days of Rueda de Casino, most calls where descriptive in order to make them easy to remember in the situation, like Paséala (Walk her), Exhíbela (Exhibit her), Sácala (take her out), Pánque and Sombrero (hat).

But how on Earth does a brandname like “Coca-Cola” fit into that descriptive tradition of naming a move? On its own “Coca-Cola” is just a name with no descriptive meaning. Unless we use our fantasy!

Coca-Cola is a wellcome refreshment during the heat of a dance, or think of it as treat to be added to Dile Que No, and what treat is better or more warranted than a sparkling soft drink except that I prefer cold water?

In the 1950’ties and 1960’ties the Coca-Cola bottle had a shape resembling the female torso, and that is exactly what the Lead feels with his right hand when leading the Follow into Dile Que No con Coca-Cola.

I like this speculative double explanation of the origin of the Coca-Cola name. Some Cubans call the Coca-Cola turn for Enroscala and that just means “turn her like a screw”.

Some dancers don’t like the idea of using a Multinational brand-name as the name for a figure, and for the sake of political correctness, they have renamed Coca-Cola to the meaningless term Botella (“bottle”), void of any descriptive meaning or charm.

I love “Coca-Cola” as the most perfect name for a popular Cuban dance figure. Don’t mess with what makes me smile!

Coca-Cola is undervalued

Before we end this rant about the origin of the Coca-Cola name, let me say that Coca-Cola left turns are undervalued. I find it mind blowing, astonishing, that half of all Leads never use it.

I use Coca-Cola to continue Enchufla both with right turning motion toward Caída position and with left turning motion back to Open Position. I use Coca-Cola as part of Casino Clásico, of Paséala and Exhíbela walks, as part of Paseo, Caminala and Saloneo walks, and of cause as part of Dile Que No and Pánque variations.

Also, Dile Que No con Coca-Cola on “5-6-7” is not just how it is normally done in Rueda de Casino: We have more than 10 different variations. The Follow can be led and turned by hand, shoulder or hip, one handed, two handed, crossed handed. The turn can be around or in front of the Lead, and we can continue in many ways:

  1. Another Dile Que No
  2. Into Rodeo Inverso
  3. Lead walks under his arm on “1” or “4”
  4. Exhibela Walk
  5. Paseala Walk
  6. Paseo Walk
  7. Restarting Right Turning Motion on “1”
  8. Adding Three Step Coca-Cola Turn on “7-1-2”
  9. Adding Two Step Coca-Cola Spiral Turn on “1-2”

I regard “Coca-Cola” as the most wonderful of all turns in Cuban Salsa. Really to own left turns, Coca-Cola, in all their forms and variations, both in the middle and in the corner of figures, is one of the keys to unlocking the full potential of Cuban Salsa.

The text in this tutorial is a transcript of the Video.

Link to the same video on YouTube

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