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3. Side Breaks

Side Breaks, also known as Side Rocks, 2nd Position Breaks, or Cucarachas, are a 3-step pattern consisting of a rock step taken to the side, with the feet closing on the third step. They are typically taken in pairs, once to the right, and once to the left (or vice versa), but can be danced in any combination and mixed together with other figures. A pair of Side Breaks can be repeated as desired.

A Side Break to the right begins with a step to the side on the right foot (counted "quick"), then replacing weight to the left foot (counted "quick"), and finally closing the right foot to the left (counted "slow"). A Side Break to the left is the mirror image, beginning with the left foot side, replacing weight to the right foot, and closing the left foot to the right.

Side Breaks are taken in either closed or open facing position, and so the man and lady dance the mirror image of each other. When he dances a Side Break to his right, she dances a Side Break to her left, and vice-versa.

Since the timing of a Side Break is quick-quick-slow, it must overlap with the previous figure by commencing immediately after a slow count, thereby maintaining the continuous slow-quick-quick rhythm of the Rumba. For example, the man could step forward on his left foot (counted "slow") as part of a series of Box steps, to transition into a Side Break to right. He could also step back on his right foot as step 4 of the Box, to transition into a Side Break to left. For a complete list of entries and exits, refer to the precedes and follows tabs above.

Cucarachas and Partial Weight Transfer

Many International style dancers will recognize this figure as being nearly identical to the Cucaracha, with one exception: The basic technique of a Side Break in American style calls for the weight to be transferred fully to each foot on all 3 steps.

However, as a variation it is acceptable to dance the Side Breaks as one might dance an International Cucaracha, in which case the steps would be described as:

  • Right foot side with partial weight.
  • Transfer weight completely to left foot.
  • Close right foot to left foot.
  • Left foot side with partial weight.
  • Transfer weight completely to right foot.
  • Close left foot to right foot.


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