Ochos: Taking Your Salsa in New Directions

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If you’re going to Cuba you’ll need this move! Ochos are a very common Cuban style Salsa move and a nice break from the linear feel you might be used to.

How To Do Ochos

With Ochos, you rotate around your partner freely without worrying about the lady keeping her exact same line of dance. There’s also no limit as to how many ochos you can do in a row, just use your Change of Place and Cumbia basic techniques to continuously switch places until you want to finish with a back break and collect your partner.

Footwork For the Ladies & Gentleman

When it comes to the footwork for the Ochos, both the ladies and the fellas need to focus on the same things:

  1. Take one step back and two steps forward (Cumbia basic)
  2. Make sure you square up to your partner after every 180 degree rotation
  3. You’ll always be stepping back on counts 1 and 5

Partner Work

Think of this move as broken into three pieces: A Change of Place, a guys left turn and then another Change of Place followed by the lead collecting the lady. When you break it down like this, the move becomes much more simple.

Fellas, the only new skill you’re adding here is that left turn where you raise your right hand over the follows arm and let her right hand slide around your back. By the time you’re finished the turn, your left hand should meet her arm and then slide down towards her hand to regain your connection.

Tips With Your Footwork

Leads, because you have to change directions quickly, make sure you don’t let your heel touch the floor when you do your back breaks. Doing so will slow you down and result in you doing much more work than you have to to get where you want to go.

Ladies, you’ll be following a similar rule when doing your back breaks. Because you’ll probably be wearing heels, it’s okay for your heel to touch the floor; however, make sure you’re not transferring any weight onto the heel. Keep the weight on the balls of your feet so you can transfer your weight into a new direction, allowing you to be quicker on your feet and more responsive to the lead.

Last but not least, keep your steps small. This tip goes for both the lead and the follows. It’s likely that the song you’re dancing to will be relatively fast so don’t make yourselves do more work than you have to by traveling far. Keep things tight and this move will feel a lot more relaxed and easier to execute.

Try Some Ocho Variations

Ochos are a move that lend itself well to many variations. Master this step and then move on to try Cascading Ochos and Hand Switch Ochos. These variations are a must if you want to fit in dancing with the Cubans ;).

Time to Practice

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Beginner salsa step ochos dance dojo