Drinking & Dancing in El Salvador

Elegance turns to a sloppy muddled mess in the Salvadoran danza de los chapetones. On purpose. For giggles.

The satirical dance begins with thirteen dancers, 12 men and a woman. All are elegantly dressed – the men represent Spanish nobles, wearing suits with fancy hats, the woman represents the Spanish queen, wearing a crown and white wedding dress. Which all makes sense once you realize El Salvador was once a Spanish colony.

The satire begins as a waltz, wickedly exaggerated. As the dance continues, the queen tipples chicha into the dancer’s cups – a sweet local booze made from maize, panela, and pineapple – over and over again.

With each sip the dance becomes sloppier, rowdier, and – eventually – downright wild.

Have you ever had chicha? If not, would you try it?

Source: Lonely Planet & others
Photos: Folklor de El SalvadorDtarazona


  1. Jessica Bennett says

    Thanks for sharing this dance with us. I wrote a paper in college on folk dances from around the world but did not come across this one (too many dances, not enough time to read about all of them). And the drink sounds delicious.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Sure thing! Your essay sounds wonderful – how many dances did you end up writing about?

      • Jessica Bennett says

        I think I chose 10, a nice round number. I haven’t thought about it in a long time. I do remember writing about a Russian folk dance where the woman leads and the man follows. And English Country Dance, which is more or less what you see in movies of Jane Austen novels. Then there’s an Israeli folk dance, which is various movements done in a circle. And an Indian folk dance with very deliberate movements (especially with the hands- there’s some term for that, but I can’t remember and can’t take the time to look it up right now). But my favourite (and I think I wrote about 2 of them) are tribal dances of West Africa. We got to learn them on occasion at the high school I went to (school for the arts- I was a dance major). I looked like an idiot compared to most people, but I loved the rhythms and the percussion instruments.

        • Sasha Martin says

          That sounds so neat! If you ever find that paper, I’d love to read it. 🙂

          • Jessica Bennett says

            I know I don’t have it. This was before electronic files. I wrote this on a typewriter (no, I’m not that old, I was just a luddite until the mid-late 90s), and I moved so many times in between then and now, I lost a lot along the way.

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