This weekend, in Queretaro, we saw posters advertising: “25 FESTIVAL DE HUAPANGO ARRIBEÑO EN XICHÚ Y 15 EN QUERÉTARO ¡VAMOS A BAILAR HUAPANGO!“
I didn’t know what at least two of those words meant (Huapango and Xichu), but, as we’re so used to doing these days, we used our powers of language deduction (gracias a cognate “festival” and the very simplistic “vamos a bailar“) and realized it was a dance festival. (We’re such geniuses of language. Sigh.) Anyway, what the hell, we thought, porque no?
Turns out that Huapango is a style of music common to Northeastern Mexico, and it’s a cross between spoken word poetry, mariachi, folklorico and a jig — complete with frantic dancing that looked remarkably like Irish step dancing.
Most of the dancers at our festival were dressed normally, but a few were all gussied up like Frida, which I ate up, being the goofy turista that I am. It’s no secret that Mexicans love to dance (go to Plaza de la Cuidadela in Mexico City on a Saturday afternoon for proof), and the night was beyond entertaining. Women and men of all ages weren’t the least bit shy about jumping up on the elevated dance floor, and, for lack of a better phrase, jigging the night away. (Some of you may be thinking of folklorico music, or the Mexican hat dance, which I understand, but Huapango is not quite the same.)
But, no, we never worked up the nerve to join in on the dancing. Have you ever seen Riverdance? Would you ever attempt that in a foreign country surrounded by strangers who are acutely aware that you’re not from there? With absolutely no alcohol in your system? And one of you is the tallest person at the festival?
I didn’t think so.
I’ve searched and searched online for a video that would illustrate what he we heard and saw. Sadly, nothing really compares.
A good song sample, though, can be found here: el gusto
And here’s some pretty decent video of students attempting to learn it: