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Spot Turns (including Switch Turns, Underarm Turns)

Rumba Spot Turns and Switch Turns

These are Newcomer Level figures. This online reference gives a detailed description of dance steps; a list of figures that may precede or follow the pattern; and videos providing instruction and demonstration of the figure, techniques and practice routines that include it.

This is similar to  Cha Cha Cha Spot Turns (including Switch Turns, Underarm Turns)  (replacing chasse with one step).


Step Timing Movement 
Turn Notes
RF fwd (after turning 1/4 to L on preceding "&") in line with LF
Then turn 1/2 to end with RF in the back on "&"
1/4 to L, step RF,
then 1/2 to L
This is Switch Turn to Left.
The turn is started at the end of preceding figure.

Transfer weight to LF

"3&", on "&": turn 1/4 to L
4 1
RF to side
1/4 to L over 3-5
At end of "1": turn to R.
4 2
LF fwd (after 1/4 to R) in line with RF,
then turn 1/2 to end with LF in the back
1/4 to R, step LF,
then 1/2 to R
This is Switch Turn to Right.
The turn is started at the end of preceding figure.
5 3
Transfer weight to RF

on "&", turn 1/4 to R
6 4 1
LF to side
1/4 to R over 3-5


Step Timing Movement 
Turn Notes
LF fwd (after turning 1/4 to R on preceding "&") in line with RF
Then turn 1/2 to R to end with LF in the back on "&"
1/4 to R, step LF,
Then 1/2 to R on "&"
This is Switch Turn to Left (because Man is turning L)

End of preceding step on '&', full commit the weight on RF, settle, pressure on LF, energy is forward, tail bone down; then swivel on RF, do quick impulse, turn 1/4 to R. Pay attention to foot position, LF turned out, not turned in (sometimes due to over turning to R on this step.)

Different from New Yorker: Fully commit weight on front foot before doing the half turn to R using Forward Walk Turn action.. (Difference in lead compared to New Yorker.)

Arm option: left hand on waist, or left arm wrap around the back. R arm can be held in front of tummy, palm facing tummy. Hands should not have other extra unintended actions, go directly to waist, pure and simple (if that's the choice).

On "&" after the turn, compress on left side. (Finishing with hips to the side, then, quick impulse,  it will twist to move spine to RF in next step.)

To achieve the effect of "quick impulse" - sudden action:
- body turns more continuously at same speed,
- head: do head spotting and fast changing head direction
- leg/knee delays the turn a bit and then turn much faster and body and leg arrives at the final position at the same time.
Transfer weight on to RF

- before "3", there is a moment the R leg is bent, then straighten before stepping on floor.
- or: Keep R leg straight the whole time.
Hold this a bit longer and have weight fully transfer to RF (see Latin Technique Swivel Action) and make sure to finish the diagonal pendulum swing before doing twist on '&'.
On "&", quick impulse, twist, turn 1/4 to R (turn before stepping next step)
When turning to right, it's Right Side leading.
Styling: when moving forward, arms would go back (think of wind blowing at the arms.)
3 4 1
LF to side
1/4 to R over 3-5
Turn/swivel at end of previous beat. Track LF underneath and then place under the shoulder to the side, not too big step. It's a smooth step, do not pause in middle. "4" is a side step (after the turning to face partner), do not make it a forward step, then turn. 
At end of this step, work RF down to ground, develop the foot more.

For underarm turn, at the "&": twist L hip, pulling R hip through, R arm will close in front of face (to left side). Keep L shoulder fwd side leading.
4 2
RF fwd (after 1/4 to L) in line with LF, 
Then turn 1/2 to L ending with RF in the back
1/4 to L, then 1/2 to L
Switch Turn to Right (Man is turning to R)
The turn is started at the end of preceding figure.

When turning at the end of "2", body is not square, use Left Side Leading.
If Lady's R arm is connected to Man, Lady will feel R arm closing window.

Static body design: hands statically on hips while turning and extend arms to side on 41.
More flexible and fluid design: When turning, L arm extend to the side and as body rotate, arm will warp in front of tummy, R hand on hip or R arm wrap around the back.

For Switch Turns, if Man is still hold Lady's R hand, Lady: Put LH on hip first, (end of previous beat) then raising L arm to side during "2", at beginning of count "3", L arm goes in front of chest. (and Man will release hold to Lady's RH, Lady's R arm wrap around back.)
5 3
Transfer weight to LF

on "&", turn 1/4 to L
6 4 1
RF to side
1/4 to L over 3-5
When followed by underarm turn or Alemana, L arm will be straight out to the side.

  • Spot Turns: 3 forward steps danced solo by Man and/or Lady, circling to L or R.
  • Spot Turns can be danced as Switch Turns. Start in Closed Position. No hold, or L to R or R to L hand hold.
  • Turning action: could be a Forward Walk Turn action, or a brushing action where the free foot closes to standing foot, brush and then do a fwd walk.
  • Different from underarm turn, for spot turns,
    • count "2": lady turns about 1/8", diagonally "&" RF brush LF
    • count "3": lady turns about 1/4, RF fwd
      • if preferred, the ball of the foot may remain in place while turn is made around this foot.
    • count "4 1": finish turn to face partner
      • last step could be fwd or to side depending on distance between couple.
  • Often, one partner is doing Spot Turn, while the other does Alternative Basic or Cuban Rock, or 3 steps of a Closed Basic.
  • Spot Turn is a common ending for New York, Hand to Hand, Fencing and may other figures.
  • Amount of Turns: complete turn, or 7/8 or 3/4, depending on starting and ending position: open PP, Open CPP, facing partner.
  • Spot Turn or Switch to L (Lady to R) could end in Open Position, taking L to R hand hold at step 3, taking step 3 fwd leading Lady to step back.

Rumba Underarm Turn to Left

Can be danced in following positions. L to R hand hold.

From Closed Position:
From Open CPP:
  • Man does 1-3 of Closed Basic Movement taking 1st step to Lady's L side.
  • May may turn L on last step to end in Open PP. (Lady turn 1/8 less)

Rumba Underarm Turn to Right

Danced in Closed Position. L to R hand hold.
  • Man dances RF Alternative Basic or 4-6 of Closed Basic while leading to turn.
  • May end in Open CPP.