NB. Much of this post is based on material taught by Bernt Rygg of SalsaNor, who I would like to thank for letting me describe it here, and for comments and contributions to an an earlier draft.
Ruedas dobles – variations
Rueda de Casino can be danced in a structure where couples dance in two nested circles. Double Rueda, ‘Ruedas dobles’ (double circles) or ‘Dos Ruedas’ (two wheels) is not a new idea, and was being enjoyed in the 1960s by the founders of Rueda de Casino in Cuba, according to interviews by Frances Hatem. This seems to be a version of the ‘independent circles’ described below, but with at least some moves with mirrored turns.
Approximate translation: Luis Camargo ‘Doble S’ Apaulaza: “We also made the ‘Ruedas dobles’; three or four couples at the centre, often the more experienced dancers, and six or seven couples outside. When we did a figure, for example Derecha Izquiera, those inside were first Derecha [turning to the right] and those outside Izquierda [turning to the left]. Each of the circles made different things, as mirrored. And it fell after on the right time. It was very nice”.
Ruedas dobles is most frequently encountered as a simple way of fitting more people into the available space on the dance floor, or as a way of avoiding over-large circles. It is also used by instructors as a means of demonstrating new figures, by bringing a few more confident couples into a small inner circle, who can then be more easily observed by the outer circle.
Dancing in two simple nested circles is the simplest version of Ruedas dobles, but the fun starts once interactions and exchanges between the two circles are introduced. Although several variations of Ruedas dobles are possible, only one of these is described in the Guide to Rueda de Casino, i.e. ‘Rueda llanta’.
There seems to be a logical set of double Rueda structures of increasing complexity. There may well be more than these, but the most obvious variations, appear to be:
Ruedas dobles – simple duplication: Two simple nested circles with no interaction or exchange – every couple does the same figure (as in the teaching example noted above). The number of couples may vary between circles, and there can be an odd or even number.
Ruedas dobles – independent circles: Ditto, but with the inside and outside circles dancing independently, so they may be doing completely different moves. This needs the caller to add a modifier to calls to specify one or other of the circles; Bernt uses ‘interior’ (inside) to denote calls which only apply to the inner circle, e.g. Interior enchufla, and uses calls such as Interior por fuera so that the inner circle faces out of the Rueda some of the time. At the 2013 SalsaNor Rueda Congress, he used this structure with more experienced dancers in the inside circle, and less experienced on the outside, which was a good way of keeping dancers of different levels of experience happy whilst all dancing together.
Ruedas dobles – simple exchanges: Either of the above variations but with the inner and outer circles occasionally exchanging position, or just exchanging LEs or FOs, but with no other interaction. I have never encountered this variation, but it would need equal numbers of couples in each circle, and a simple and orderly way for the inner and outer couples to exchange places, and a call such as Cambio de Ruedas (change wheels). Whilst this could be just the outer circle stepping in to the centre as the inner circle steps backwards to the outside, more structure to avoid chaos, such as the alignment of couples used in Rueda frente a frente (see below).
Ruedas dobles – exchanges and interactions: As in Rueda frente a frente (described below) and Rueda llanta, more complex structures involving two circles with an equal and even number of couples, with exchanges of whole circles (swapping position), or just LEs or FOs, and most importantly, the two circles interacting through the medium of Rueda dos parejas (2 couple ‘circles’).
Rueda frente a frente (circle face to face): Two circles, with couples dancing in an offset position, and the inner couples dancing Afuera (to the outside). Interactions between the two circles are relatively simple compared with Rueda llanta and are via Rueda dos parejas (Rueda for 2 couples).
Rueda llanta (wheel rim): Two circles interacting via Rueda dos parejas (Rueda for 2 couples), which is the default position, with the caller choosing calls which relate to either the 2 couple circles or the 2 larger circles. This variation is described in the Guide to Rueda de Casino, and taught by a number of instructors in Europe and Scandinavia; its origin is unclear. Although already a relatively complex structure, Knut Leiss from Bonn, Germany adds to this complexity by switching to Rueda espejo (mirror Rueda) for some moves! (Mirror Rueda, which was created by Knut, is described in the Guide and involves only one new call, after which every move is danced in a mirror image; i.e. mirrored positions, mirrored direction of moves, mirrored handholds, footsteps etc).
Rueda frente a frente (circle face to face) in more detail:
This Rueda structure was created by Bernt Rygg of SalsaNor in 2013. Rueda frente a frente is less complex and so easier to learn than Rueda llanta, but shares many characteristics; an ‘outside’ set of couples dancing as in a normal Rueda and an ‘inside’ set of couples dancing Afuera (facing to the outside); just LEs or just FOs can swap Ruedas; the two circles interact and change members via Rueda dos parejas (two couple Ruedas). The minimum number of couples for this structure is 6, although 8 or 10 is better since with smaller circles, the couples in the inner circle are crowded together with little space to dance in.
Whereas Rueda llanta is based on sets of paired couples in Rueda dos parejas (4s), in Frente a frente individual couples dance in the normal open position, with couples in the two circles offset so as to face the ‘gap’ between the couples in the other Rueda. This ensures that when couples exchange circles they have a free space to move into. As in Rueda llanta, couples have to take responsibility for maintaining their position relative to the opposite circle.
Calls to get in and out of the structure
Rueda frente a frente normally begins from a normal Rueda, in the open position (Guapea).
Getting into Frente a frente
Three very closely related moves are used to get into this structure from a normal Rueda, and to alternate the position of the two circles (1) Frente a frente to get into the structure (2) Cambia rueda to exchange circles, and (3) Un paseito to achieve a ‘there and back again’ repeated exchange. It is a good idea if newcomers to this structure are introduced to the basic movement via Un paseito, before moving on to the other variations. You can get a sense of this movement from this Youtube practice video by the Montreal Rueda Project, who were represented at the 2013 SalsaNor Rueda congress and already sharing what they learned online.
Un paseito (a short walk)
This move is begun from the Frente a frente marking time position; couples in the outer circle dance in the open position (Guapea) as in a normal Rueda; the inner circle in the Afuera position facing the outside also dancing Guapea. Couples should be spaced so that they face the gap between couples in the opposite circle. For the purpose of this description it is assumed that the caller begins in the outside of the two circles.
- From the open position, on beats 1-2-3 the LE and his partner, with the other couples in his circle, step sideways into the circle, and briefly change hands to LRH/FRH. On 5-6-7 the LE draws the FO across to his left as in Dile que no as he half turns to his left and changes places with the FO, changing hold again back to LLH/FRH. The ‘caller couple’ and his set are now in the inner circle in the ‘Afuera’ position. Meanwhile, the other set of couples who began in this position, have completed exactly the same move but have stepped from the inside to the outside, to end in the open position as in a normal Rueda.
- On the next set of 8 beats, repeat the move so that everyone ends back where they started.
Call the move again to keep the flow going, especially at first when becoming familiar with the basic move.
Frente a frente (face to face)
This begins from a normal Rueda, and results in a change to the Frente a frente structure.
- Over 8 beats the ‘caller couple’ and the paired set of alternate couples do the first half of the Paseito move to end as an inner circle in the Afuera position. Meanwhile, the couples who have remained in a normal Rueda position complete Echevarria con vuelta (Echevarria with a turn). Bernt calls ‘Fly‘ towards the end of the move so that everyone claps on the next beat 1 to confirm that after the two different moves everyone is synchronised again, but this is optional.
Enchufla frente a frente (connect her face to face)
Another option for getting from a normal Rueda position into Frente a frente.
- The LE and alternate couples do Enchufla y giros pa’ afuera moving inside the Rueda, whilst other couples do Enchufla y quedate on the outside. (This simple move, described in the Rueda guide (at 7.5) is Enchufla y quedate without changing to LRH/FRH then a countersignal to the centre followed by a ‘roll off the shoulders’ (LE right, FO left simultaneous turn) to end in a reversed version of the open position).
Swap inside and outside couples
Cambia rueda (change circle)
Both couples do the Frente a frente move at the same time (i.e. each complete half of Un paseito, not Echevarria con vuelta). So the ‘inside’ couples step out of the circle, as the ‘outside’ couples do the same move changing to the ‘inside’ position.
Getting from Rueda frente a frente back into normal Rueda
‘Rueda normal’ (normal Rueda) or ‘Vamos en Rueda’ (go into a circle)
In the open position, while the outside couples do the basic Guapea step, the inside couples complete Cambia Rueda, stepping out of the circle and turning back into the conventional open position.
Once you have got the basic idea of the Frente a frente structure, there are several types of move you can add. Here are just a few possibilities, and it is worth trying out further moves from the normal Rueda repertoire to see what works or could be modified. This is still ‘work in progress’, so please do get in touch if you discover any other moves that work well in this structure.
Closed position moves beginning with Enchufla, on the Dame part of a move, LEs change Ruedas
These moves introduce interactions between the two circles via Rueda dos parejas, and all begin with or include Enchufla y quedate (connect and stay) where LEs change position with the FO. It can be slightly confusing to remember which opposite couple to pair up with, but works if the LEs follow the simple rule that after the Enchufla they link hands with the LE who is to their left side. Each move ends with Dame, and LEs move between the 2 circles at this point into Dile que no with a new partner; FOs do not exchange circles.
Croqeta y aspirina
Enchufla (y) al medio + y hombres cambia Rueda (?)
La Familia + Hombres y cambia Rueda (LEs hook arms and turn together before changing partners and circles).
Patin (pa’) mujeres
Circles interact by clapping hands
Patin with Ni pa ti ni pa mi(clapping hands with partners in the opposite circle to left and right). Start the basic Patin move (LEs from the two circles only link arms within their own circle; call ‘Siguelo‘ (follow him) so LEs stay in place for a time doing back / cross steps with linked arms as FOs mark time. Then on a call of Ni pa ti ni pa mi LEs release hold, and clap on beat 7, turning to their right, then continue with claps of hands with the FO in the opposite circle to their right on beat 1, and with the FO in the opposite circle to their left on beat 5, repeating the clapping sequence until a call of Dile que no ends the fun.
Cubanito with Ni pa’mi, ni pa’ ti (similar to Patin with Ni pa’mi, ni pa’ ti).
LEs and FOs stepping in opposite directions
In a few moves where there are 4 lines of people circling, each alternate line of LEs or FOs in the opposite direction, eg.
Directo a Cienfuegos (= Dame directo hasta la tuya)
Tumbau Francesa (difficult with small numbers of couples)
Closed position: Ideas for other moves
The two circles step in opposite directions by default in the closed position, but again this reults in 4 alternate lines of LEs and FOs stepping in opposite directions:
Tarrito hasta la tuya
Changes of direction (as in normal Rueda)
Rueda formation (facing the centre): ideas for moves
LEs change Ruedas on the Dame
La rosa (= La flor) + Hombres mueve uno (= LEs change Rueda with a half turn).
Two Ruedas progressing in opposite directions
Add an exchange of either LE or FO between the Ruedas
Estrella + Hombres intercambio (LEs are next to each other, FOs to extreme inside and outside, LEs release hold with their partner, rotate 180 degrees, swap partners and change direction).
Estrella + Chicas intercambio (ditto but need first to change the direction of the Estrella, so that the FOs are adjacent and able to swap places).
Or try any of the moves for the ‘carousel’ position (LE and FO one behind the other making a small star, or in this structure more probably a ‘train’ shape) which also results in two Ruedas moving in opposite directions.