November 08, 2023 #ChileDiverse

What is the cueca?

The September airs not only bring spring and skies full of kites throughout our country; the streets begin to fill with flags and white, blue and red decorations, and in the different celebrations you can hear the clapping, the stomping and the celebration that always accompanies our national dance: the cueca.

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Since September 18, 1979, the decree No. 23 published in the Official Gazette, officially promulgated the cueca as our national dance. This fact comes to confirm the history generated by the dance itself, appropriating spaces throughout our geography and at the same time adapting to the passing of the years. That is why among the enormous range of traditional dances from north to south, the cueca imposes presence in all regions.

Although the origin is not fully defined, there seems to be an agreement that it derives from the dance called zamacuecawhich in turn has its roots in typical Spanish dances such as the jota or the fandango, mixed with African and Amerindian rhythms. It is at this moment that the use of the handkerchief appears, owner of the grace and seduction in the dance that we are used to see today.

Resembling a courtship, the cueca is full of subtleties and flirting; the measured and suggestive movements are organized in a common pattern that makes it very easy to recognize and turns it into a unique dance. The choreography, movements and music vary depending on the geographic region or the subgenres that have been created over time.

It is said that in Chile the cueca starts in the XIX century in the cantinas and chinganasThese were places of celebration and hubbub that became the center of the beating of tambourines or hand clapping and the accompaniment of guitars and harps to the high-pitched voices representative of the cueca. Then it is attributed to the figure of the Chilean rotowho in the early twentieth century began to move from the countryside to the city, is credited with bringing the cueca to the capital, making typical the neighborhoods of La Vega, Estación Central and Matadero. Places that still maintain this spirit.

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It is this same urbanization of the dance that creates styles marked in different sectors, such as the cueca porteña or cueca chora. Where the lyrics, apart from telling the daily life of the neighborhoods and their adventures and misfortunes, relate the bohemian life of the big cities. A great variety of cueca groups have been in charge of maintaining the roots of this traditional dance and song, including new generations that enjoy the cueca not only in September but all year round.

Here are some of the places where you can go to dance cueca in any month of the year:

Victoria Bar
Referred to as a disco to go cueca dancing, Bar Victoria is a perfect place to enjoy food, typical drinks and take advantage of the opportunity to dance all year round with live cue bands.

Huaso Enrique
With a tradition of 63 years, this place located in the Yungay neighborhood has become one of the most traditional when going out to listen or dance cuecas. With classes taught throughout the year, it is already a meeting point and reference of this aspect of our culture.

Athletic Commerce
With live music and cuequeros bands from different parts of Chile, this place in downtown Santiago livens up the nights every week of the year. It is also possible to take classes and enjoy the wit and grace of Chilean music.


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