Dancing Salsa in a circle with multiple couples involves several elements or phases.  The following explanation is not precision science...  it's simply offered as a helpful reference as to what happens in a Rueda. 

The First Phase is composed of various Start-up Moves (Al Medio, Abajo, Exhibela, etc.).  These moves get the Rueda going.  Keep in mind that you don't have to start a Rueda this way.  You can start up in Guapea if you prefer (Guapea is discussed below).

The Second Phase involves transitioning the lady from the gentleman's right side to his left side through a Dile Que No (cross-body lead ).  This gets them into position to do various moves that will be called during the Rueda.  Note - in discussing which of the leader's shoulders (or side) the lady is on, it is always in relation to the couple facing the center of the circle. 

The Third Phase is Guapea.  Immediately after the leaders transition the ladies from their right side to their left side, the couples in the Rueda go into Guapea.  In essence, Guapea is the Rueda basic.  In Guapea, couples are dancing in a holding pattern, waiting for the caller to call the next move. 

  Rueda and Salsa Casino
  Salsa Group Dancing
The Rueda Moves
Your # 1 Priority??  
      Dance precisely on the beat!!

           Your # 2 priority??
              Learn to to count the 8-beat
        measure, and count
         throughout the learning process!!
  - Profe -
Structure of the Curriculum
© 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com

RuedaUSA's classes are organized around the referenced five phases, summarized as follows:

Phase OneStart-up Moves (Al Medio, Abajo, etc. - they get the Rueda started)
Phase TwoTransition (Dile Que No - lady goes from gent's right side to left side)
Phase Three    Guapea (Rueda basic - in neutral, waiting for the next Rueda call)
Phase Four     Partner Exchanges (Dame, Dame Dos, Vacila y Dame, Arriba, etc.)
Phase Five      Rueda Moves (Enchufa, Sombrero, Vacila, Dedo, Uno, Doce, etc.)

Note about Phase Five - At RuedaUSA, we divide Phase Five - Rueda Moves - into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels based on the nature and complexity of the moves.  As explained below in detail, we group them into "Families of Moves."  Note that we treat the tap on the 8th beat as the dividing line between Beginner and Intermediate levels.  Here is the framework within which we organize and teach Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Rueda Moves:

Setenta Nuevo, Noventa, Siete Setenta, Kentucky Complicado, Beso por Abajo,
Siete Loco Complicado, Consorte, Huracan, Bebe, Sambuca, Dedo Loco, Tijera,
El Zorro, La Estrella, El Medico, La Cuadra, La Jenny, La Julie, Micaela, etc.

  Ahhh...  The Famous Miami Taps!!
      © 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com

The Miami Taps - There are Rueda moves that depart from a tap on the 8th beat, and Rueda moves that don't.  Many of the more interesting and challenging Rueda moves depart from a tap on the 8th beat.  For RuedaUSA, the tap on the 8th beat is the line of demarcation between beginners and intermediates.

The Miami Taps are the second most distinguishing characteristic of the Miami/Cuban style (after Guapea), as compared to club-style salsa.  The taps involve a dab with the toe  on the 4th and 8th beats.  The tapping foot is not weighted (the opposite leg continues to carry the body's weight).  Student note:  Once you have tapped, you always take the next step with the same foot you tapped with.  Always!!

The taps are often hard for many students to learn.  Please recognize that this is normal and work on the taps.  You need to master the taps to become a top-notch Rueda dancer, especially the tap on the 8th beat which is the point of departure for many intermediate and advanced moves.

More Work on the Taps - Many Rueda instructors do not fully realize how difficult it is for many students to learn the taps.  Instructors sometimes find themselves struggling with students on intermediate and advanced moves, failing to realize that the students are not  struggling because of the footwork pattern or upper-body mechanics, but because they don't have the taps fully under control.

Tap Exercises - At RuedaUSA, we have developed various tap exercises to ensure that students understand the taps, and are able to execute them on demand.  Until students have mastered the tap exercises, they don't proceed into the intermediate moves.  We have found that, if students are drilled on the taps first, they usually have little trouble with the  moves that depart from the tap on the 8th beat. 

Note to students:  If you're having trouble with the tap moves, don't assume that there is something wrong with your dancing.  You probably haven't been given adequate instruction on the taps.  Ask your instructor for more guidance and drills on the taps.  Practice the taps with your fellow students.  Or, take lessons at another Rueda school where you can receive adequate instruction on the taps.

Taps Seemingly Everywhere - Gradually, students will notice that sometimes there seem to be taps throughout a particular move.  That's correct.  Paseala, Paseala por Arriba, and Pasea y Complicate, for example, are full of taps on the 4th and 8th beats.  In addition, dancers from Miami and Cuba tend to put taps in their dancing all the time, to the extent that you may be unable to discern pauses on the 4th or 8th beats.

Bottom Line - To dance Rueda beyond the beginner level, you have to master the taps, especially the taps on the 8th beat from which many of the more interesting intermediate and advanced moves depart.   If you want to dance "al estilo Cubano," you have to master the taps.  So, don't avoid the taps.  Embrace them.  Learn them.  Learn them early on.  Learn them well.  They will bring joy to your Rueda and Salsa dancing!!  Wepa!!


            Syllabus of Rueda Moves

Intermediate and Advanced Moves
© 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com

Moves You Will Actually Use - At the bottom of this section, you will find a listing of the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced moves that we teach at RuedaUSA.  This list is not all-encompassing.  We focus on what we consider to be the most important moves at each level that we feel casineros (Rueda dancers) will actually use in their Rueda dancing.  We don't include moves that involve a lot of arm manupulation which some of the Miami Rueda schools are into these days.  We feel these types of moves are overly gymnastic and will rarely be used at clubs or parties anywhere outside of Miami.
Every Salsa Casino school classifies the Rueda moves into slightly different beginner, intermediate and advanced categories.  You can readily observe this by looking at the curriculum of various Rueda schools on their websites.  Some schools break down the moves into subcategories, like:  Beginner level I, Beginner Level II, Beginner Level III. 

Precise Categories Not Important - To us, it doesn't really matter if you put the moves in precisely the right level or sub-level.  Lots of time is spent arguing over what moves belong in what categories.  That's mostly a matter of opinion anyway.  So, don't waste time trying to put all the move into tidy boxes.  We'll give you a better way to categorize the moves.

Of course, it's important to work on being able to remember the moves and being able to recall and pronounce their names.  To that end, you will find it helpful to go over the lists at the bottom of this page as you are learning the moves.  We strongly recommend that you print out the lists and check off the moves as you learn them.  Be prepared at each class to ask the instructor to review any moves that you feel you have not mastered.

Focus on the Big Picture - Most importantly, think about the big picture.  Work on being able to visualize the basic pattern of the moves.  To visualize a move, it is helpful to key in on how the move begins, as opposed to trying to remember the whole move at once.  Understanding the families of moves, as discussed below, will help you in being able to quickly recollect how the moves begin.    

Focus on Key Factors - Learn to think in terms of groups of related moves (see discussion below about "Families of Moves").  Then, distinguish between moves that involve the tap on the 8th beat, and those that don't.  Distinguish between one-handed or two-handed moves.  Then determine if they start with crossed hands or not.
Crossed Hands - Students often get exasperated trying to remember which moves begin with crossed hands and which ones don't.  Yep, it's hard.  It was hard for me when I was learning Rueda.  All leaders have the same difficulty, not just you.  At RuedaUSA, we have deliberately organized the curriculum so as to make it easier for you to distinguish between moves that start with crossed hands and moves that don't.  Read on.

The issue of crossed hands comes up in a big way at the Intermediate level.  In the list of intermediate moves at the bottom of this page, the Vacila, Siete and Setenta moves never begin with crossed hands.  On the other hand, the Core Tap Moves always start with crossed hands (either single-handed or two-handed moves).  We organized the curriculum that way on purpose to help you quickly sort out which moves begin with crossed hands and which ones don't.  We think you will find this very helpful. 

Facilitate the Learning Process - At RuedaUSA, we do several things to facilitate the process of learning the moves, remembering their names, and remembering how they are done.  The first thing we do to facilitate the learning process is actually something that we don't do!!  We don't include any tap moves at the beginner levelWepa!! 

It's hard enough for beginners to figure out what is happening in a Rueda, understand how to change partners, and learn all the basic moves without having to contend with the taps on the 8th beat.  Moves that start from a tap on the 8th beat are very confusing to many students.  That's why we don't introduce tap moves until the intermediate level.

Mix Up Tap and Non-tap Moves - Be advised, however, that virtually all Rueda schools mix up tap moves and non-tap moves from the very beginning.  Salsa Lovers Dance Studios, for example, puts the following tap moves in its Beginner instructional tape:  Vacilala, Vacila y Dame, and Siete.  Salsa Racing Dance Studio includes the following tap moves early in its Beginner instructional tape:  Vacilala, Sombrero, Setenta and Dedo.  Neither video offers any useful guidance in how to do the taps.

Why Mix Them Up? - Cuban and Miami instructors mix up the tap and non-tap moves primarily because they grew up dancing that way.  Dancing with taps is second nature to them.  They do it all the time.  No problem... for them!  It rarely occurs to them that many dancers have trouble with the taps. 

As a result, Cuban and Miami instructors give little thought to how hard it is for some students to master the taps (on tap moves like Vacila, Sombrero, Dedo, Montana, Beso, Balsero, etc.) while they are learning what Rueda is all about, learning the beginner moves, and learning the partner exchanges.  Injecting tap moves too early into the learning process, especially for students that have never used taps in their dancing, often leaves these students confused and exasperated, feeling like they are never going to get it.

Two Main Ways to Start Rueda Moves - In the total panorama of Rueda moves (at all levels), the vast overwhelming majority of moves begin in one of two ways:  1) From a back rock on the 1st beat (leaders rock back on their left foot - followers rock back on their right foot); or 2) From a tap on the 8th beat (leaders tap with their left foot - followers tap with their right foot).  Differentiating between moves that start with a back-rock and moves that start from the tap on the 8th beat is the single most basic way of categorizing the Rueda moves.  So, have that distinction in your mind at all times. 

The Simple Non-tap Moves - The second thing we do at RuedaUSA to facilitate the learning process is that we group all the simpler moves together (those that do not depart from a tap on the 8th beat) and teach them as the beginner moves.  While the students are learning all these beginner moves (and the partner exchanges), we gradually introduce the RuedaUSA tap exercises (the taps on the 4th and 8th beats).  By the time the students have learned most of the beginner moves, they are ready to graduate into the intermediate moves that depart from the tap on the 8th beat.

The tap on the 8th beat is a clear dividing line between beginner and intermediate moves that students can easily visualize and understand.  Moving beyond that dividing line (from beginner to intermediate) involves a more complex dance technique.  That dance technique is the tap on the 8th beat which is the point of departure for numerous intermediate (and advanced) moves.  Before moving into the intermediate level, RuedaUSA students must first master the taps on the 4th and 8th beats.  It's not very difficult.  It's just something that needs a brief concentrated focus.

Families of Moves - The third thing we do at RuedaUSA to facilitate the learning process is that we group closely related moves into "families of moves" and teach them in those groupings.  It is our experience that students learn them a lot better and faster that way. 

Other Rueda schools do not do this.  They mix up tap move and non-tap moves all over the curriculum landscape.  When students run into a related move later on, their reaction is usually:  "Didn't we do that already, or something like that?  Is it the same move?  How is it different?"  Result... confusion!

Groupings of Moves - Many Rueda moves can be put into groupings because they begin in the same manner and  share certain elements.  At RuedaUSA we've created four Beginner groupings

And, we have  created four Intermediate groupings

Beginner Groupings - We group the Dame moves together, including:  Dame, Dame Dos, Dame con Palmas, Dame Dos con Dos, Dame Con las Manos, Dame con Vuelta, Dame con CocaCola, Dame al Medio, Dame la de Arriba, etc.

We group simple Enchufa moves together, including:  Enchufa Sencillo, Enchufa, Enchufa Doble Sencillo, Enchufa Doble, Festival de Enchufa, Pa' Ti Pa' Mi, the various Pelota moves, etc.  Note:  There are dozens of moves at all levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced) that start with an Enchufa.  Enchufa is simply a left-hand turn for the lady.  Like Izquierda and Setenta, an Enchufa is used to start many, many moves, at all levels, not just the simple beginner moves referred to above.
We also group Candado moves together, including:  Candado #1, Candado Pa' Ti, Candado Sencillo, and Candado (goes into Trencito and involves Pa' 'rriba Tiempo Espana, Tarro, Tarro de Mentira, etc.).  We group the Adios moves together, including: Adios, Adios Doble, Adios con la Hermana, Adios con la Prima, Adios de Mentira, Evelyn, etc.

Intermediate Groupings - As we said, we have created four Intermediate groupings:  the Vacilala moves, the Siete moves, the Setenta moves, and what we refer to at RuedaUSA as the Core Tap Moves.

The Vacila Family - We typically begin the Intermediate level by teaching two important elements: the taps on the 8th beat, and the Vacila footwork.  The Vacila footwork is common to many intermediate moves (and advanced moves).  The moves that we group into the intermediate "Vacila Family" include:  Vacilala, Vacila y Dame, Vacila y al Centro, Vecilense los Dos, and Vacila con Baiben (done from a tap on the 8th beat - compare that to Baiben in the beginner moves done from an Enchufa). Note:  The Vacila moves never begin with crossed hands. 

Note to the Ladies:  Learn the Vacila footwork particularly well.  This footwork is the foundation for many, many moves in the intermediate and advanced levels of Rueda.  Every time a leader takes you into a tap on the 8th beat, the Vacila footwork begins immediately on the very next beat (the 1st beat of the new 8-count).  How often?? Always!!  There is more for the ladies to learn in the Vacila footwork pattern than for the men.  So, ladies, pay close  attention to the Vacila footwork.

The Siete Family - Then, there are the moves that we group into the "Siete Family."  This family includes:  Siete, Siete con Coca Cola, Siete Moderno, El Atrevido, Three Way Stop, Siete Loco, and Siete Loco Complicado (this last move is taught at the advanced level).  These are closely related moves.  They share common elements, especially the beginning of the moves wherein the lady rolls into the man from the tap on the 8th beat.  Note:  The Siete moves never begin with crossed hands.

The Setenta Family - Setenta is another key intermediate move that departs from the tap on the 8th beat.  Learn it well.  It has many variations.  We group all these variations into the "Setenta Family" and we teach them in that aggregation.  These moves include:  Setenta, Setenta y Mas, Setenta con Gancho, Setenta Complicado, Setenta Complicado Derecho y al Reves, Setenta Nuevo, Siete Setenta, etc.  We also include Consorte and Noventa in the Setenta family because they start with a Setenta.  Note:  The Setenta moves never begin with crossed hands.

Core Tap Moves - RuedaUSA treats a particular set of intermediate moves that depart from the tap on the 8th beat as a family of related moves.  We call them the Core Tap Moves.  These Core Tap Moves share the following characteristics:  They depart from a tap on the 8th beat, they are done with crossed hands (one-handed or two-handed), and then go directly into the Vacila footwork. 

We call them the "Core Tap Moves."  They include:  Dedo, Montana, Balsero, Beso, Abrazala, Sombrero, Abanico, Juana la Cubana, Sombrero Doble, Sombrero de Regnier, etc.  Note:  The Core Tap Moves moves always begin with crossed hands (they are either single-handed or two-handed moves).  We organized the curriculum that way on purpose to help you remember the handholds for these moves.

Along with the Vacila, Siete and Setenta families of moves, the Core Tap Moves are the heart of intermediate Rueda.  Learn these four families of intermediate moves really well!!

Mix Them up Later - As students gradually become familiar with a "family of moves," we mix up the calls so that students understand that, in real ruedas (as compared to ruedas in the learning mode), moves will not be called in those family groupings. 

Summary - In summary, don't worry about fitting all the moves into precise Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced categories the way all the Rueda schools presently categorize them.  That doesn't matter very much.  Concentrate on placing the moves into the correct "families of moves." 

At the Beginner level, the families of related moves include:  the Dame, Enchufa, Adios and Canado families.  At the Intermediate level, the families of related moves include:  the Vacila, Siete and Setenta families (which never begin with crossed hands), and the Core Tap Moves (which always begin with crossed hands).

Make sure to distinguish between moves that depart from a back-rock on the 1st beat, and those that depart from a tap on the 8th beat.  Learn to distinguish between one-handed or two-handed moves.  Learn to identify the moves that begin with crossed hands. 

Note:  The issue of crossed hands comes up in a big way at the Intermediate level.  The Siete, Vacila, and Setenta moves in RuedaUSA's syllabus never begin with crossed hands. The Core Tap Moves, on the other hand, always begin with crossed hands (either single-handed or two-handed moves).  We organized the RuedaUSA curriculum that way on purpose to help you remember which moves begin with crossed hands and which ones don't. 

If you organize your thinking around these eight families of moves, you will end up with a much stronger knowledge of Rueda.  A good understanding of these eight families of moves at the Beginner and Intermediate levels will give you a very solid foundation in Rueda.  Learn them well and you will have over 100 of the most important Rueda moves in your repertoire!

Final Note:  An important part of our purpose in teaching Rueda/Salsa Casino is to add a great variety of moves to your Salsa repertoire.  Therefore, we have noted in green all of the moves at the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels that work well in partner dancing in the clubs.  The moves that don't work in partner dancing are the partner exchange moves and the group moves.

© 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com

Beginner Moves

Intermediate Moves
(This level starts with the Tap Exercises)

Advanced Moves
And...  the Famous Miami Taps on the 8th Beat!!

And...  the RuedaUSA Syllabus of Rueda Moves.

© 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger
In Guapea (the Rueda basic), the man's footwork is reversed in comparison to a club-style basic.  The lady does not change her footwork at all in Guapea.  She dances her basic in the normal manner.  In Guapea, both partners rock back at the same time (on the 1st beat) and step forward at the same time (on the 5th beat).  Compared to club-style salsa, the Guapea is the most noticeable and distinctive element of the Miami/Cuban style of Salsa.
The Fourth Phase consists of changing partners.  Initially, leaders learn to change partners by picking up ladies to their right (leaders move counter-clockwise, ladies move clockwise).  Later on, leaders learn how to exchange partners by going in the other direction - "Arriba" - in which case, they are picking the ladies to their left (leaders move clockwise).   Note:  There are differences between Miami and Cuba as to the direction the leaders travel in when Arriba or Abajo are called.

The Fifth Phase consists of all the moves that callers make in Ruedas.  There are over 200 known Rueda moves with names and hand signals.  At the bottom of this section, you will find a list of the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Rueda moves taught by RuedaUSA.
Suena con Bulla
Dile que No

Dame Family
Dame Una
Dame y no le Llegues
Dame con Palmas
Dame Dos
Dame Dos con Cuba
Dame Dos con Dos
Dame la de Arriba
Dame con Vuelta
Dame con Coca Cola
Dame con las Manos

Candado Family
Candado Uno
Candado Pa’ Ti
Candado Sencillo
Arriba - Tarro
Tarro de Mentira
Enchufa Family
Enchufa Sencillo
Enchufa con Dos
Enchufa Doble Sencillo
Enchufa Doble
Enchufa y Arriba
Festival de Enchufa
Enchufa y Casate
Al Corto y La Bola
Baiben (from Enchufa)
Pa’ Ti Pa’ Mi  
Pelota con Dos
Pelota con Cuatro
Pelota Loca
Pelota con Clave

Adios Family
Adios de Mentira
Adios Doble
Adios Doble de Mentira
Adios con la Hermana
Adios con la Prima
Other Moves
Vueltas y Mas
Uno y Dos

Group Moves
Festival de Enchufa
Enchufa al Medio con Dos
Izquierda - Derecha
La Flor - Treinta y tres

Fun Stuff
El Fly
Ping Pong
Tocale el Tobillo
Paseala Family
Paseala por Arriba
Pasea y Complicate

Group Moves
Puente Seguido

Sit Dip
Deep Dip
Side dip (Metzler)

Rueda Start-Up Moves***
Al Medio
Una Bulla
Dile que No
The Vacila Family*
Vacila al Centro
Vacila y Dame
Vacílense los dos
Baiben (from Vacilala)

Siete Family*
Siete con Vuelta
Siete con Coca Cola
Siete Moderno
El Atrevido
Siete Loco
Siete Loco Complicado
Three-way stop

Setenta Family*
Setenta y Mas
Setenta Complicado
Setenta y Uno
Setenta Nuevo

Core Tap Moves**
Dedo con Alarde
Dedo con Dos
Dedo con Tres
Dedo Moderno
Dedo, Guarapo y Bota
Dedo por Abajo
Dedo Loco
Sombrero por Abajo
Sombrero Doble
Juana la Cubana
Sombrero de Regnier
Beso por Abajo
Ponle Sabor
Kentuky Complicado
Siete loco Complicado
Siete Setenta
Setenta Complicado D&R  
Setenta Complicado con   Gancho
Media Noche
Enchufa, Exhibe con Gancho
El Doce
La Cuadra
Tres Sabores
New York con Dos
Cross Check
Coca Cola por Atras 
El Medico
La Julie
Beso por Abajo
El Zorro
La Jenny
Angel Wings
El Sueter
Pedro Navaja
Uno Complicado
Dedo de Lazaro
La Presa
La Victoria
Abanico Complicado
Candado Complicado
Ochenta y Ocho
Exhibe Doble y Gancho
Dedo Saboreado
La Tuya
Two-Turn Slow Dip
Sombrero de la Muerte

Group Moves:
Tranca 70
Puente Complicado
La Estrella

RuedaUSA Moves:
Codo por Afuera
Tira el Brazo
Reguilete por Afuera
70 con Gancho
70 por Afuera
Shoulder Check por Afuera
Mamacita por Afuera
Flamenco Nuevo
Copa de Lynn
*    None of the Vacila, Siete or Setenta moves start with crossed hands.
**   All these Core Tap Moves start with crossed hands (single-handed or two-handed).  These moves share the following characteristics: They depart from a tap on the 8th beat, they are done with crossed hands (one-handed or two-handed), and they go directly into the Vacila footwork.      
*** These moves are used to start a rueda.  They can be quite confusing to beginners.  Therefore, we teach these start-up moves after students have learned the beginner moves and know how to exchange partners with confidence.
Moves noted in green work well in partner dancing in the clubs.

© 01/01/03 - By Stephen Denlinger - RuedaUSA.com
Dancing Rueda at Miami's famous
Club Mystique on a Thursday night!!
Beautiful Bayside Marina near downtown Miami.
Dancing huge Ruedas at the 2004 Miami Rueda Congress!!

Dedo Loco