Dance the Cueca

Santiago, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile

Chile’s national folk dance is a stylized depiction of the mating ritual between a rooster and a hen. Sounds silly? When danced with gusto—the man jangling his spurs loudly, circling his partner like a proud rooster strutting his stuff, and the woman, ever-resistant, flirtatiously waving her white kerchief—it can be utterly moving. Children are taught the cueca from an early age and dance in traditional costumes during the week leading up to the September 18 national independence observances. Establishments known as fondas are also set up for a week in September as temporary venues for traditional cueca (even as some complain there’s more and more cumbia, less and less cueca), and there are clubs open year-round where families—including Grandma—learn and practice the dance.

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