On March 29, 2014 Salsa groups and dancers from all over New England joined together to enjoy a full day of Cuban-style dancing and a flash mob in Harvard Square in celebration of the first International Rueda de Casino Day. The Tech had the opportunity to speak with Or Gadish, vice president of MIT Casino Rueda, about this style of dancing and about the flash mob organized in Cambridge in celebration of it.
The Tech: So what is Casino Rueda, and how does it work?
Or Gadish: “Casino” is a Cuban dance style originating from another Cuban dance and music of the Afro-Cuban genre, called Son. Since its adoption in the US and elsewhere it’s been modified to be a little closer to Salsa, and it’s normally danced, like Salsa, in a couple. “Rueda” means “wheel” in Spanish, and “Rueda de Casino” is a form of social Casino dancing reminiscent of Square Dancing: couples dance in a circle and all of them do the same move as directed by a caller that yells out the name of the move.
The circle is interesting because some moves are done entirely with the current partner you’re with, while others involve changing partners, generating the image of a rotating wheel. MIT Casino Rueda is the student group at MIT that teaches, dances, promotes, and performs this style of dance and music. We teach lessons of all levels and perform at multiple venues.
TT: How diverse is the Casino community at MIT?
OG: Boston has a very small community of Casineros, relative to other cities around the world, but because of the presence of MIT Casino Rueda, MIT has had a strong and significant community that has only expanded in recent years. Because of this we have a really diverse community, with a strong presence of dancers from all over Latin America, but also from everywhere else in the world, reflecting MIT’s diverse community.
TT: How did the idea of a worldwide Rueda Day come to life?
OG: A Rueda group similar to ours in Croatia came up with the idea, in conjunction with a few other European groups. They then spread the news around via Facebook and personal contact. This was only the first International Rueda Day, but there has been great feedback from everyone all around the world to make this a new tradition.
TT: How many different people participated in Boston, and how were they all coordinated?
OG: We had around 50-70 people, with many more people who would have joined if it hadn’t been raining and taken place during spring break. They were predominantly coordinated via one or more of three Rueda de Casino communities: MIT Casino Rueda, Boston Rueda, and Metamovements Latin Dance Company. We had a series of workshops on the day of the flash mob to get the people together, and then had a mini rehearsal where we explained how things would go.
Because Rueda has a caller, instead of a strict choreography, people just needed to make sure they knew how to do a set of moves (each with their own name). People had access to the list of moves several weeks in advance, and during workshops we also helped teach any moves that they were missing.
TT: So how was it dancing in the rain?
OG: At first we were worried and had a “rain” location — inside the Harvard T station. But we didn’t get permission from the MBTA, so we went ahead with it — “rain or shine,” said the publicity. And it was great. It made it feel all the more like a concerted effort, and all the more worthwhile. It was cold, though, and hopefully in future years it’ll take place a little later in the year when it’s warmer.