Cueca’n in My Boots

Yesterday, I went into the city with my Chilean friend for one more expedition in Santiago. She had to complete a photo project for school and was supposed to take seven pictures of Santiago’s most iconic spots. What a horrible assignment! We went to the usual, “low-key” spots: La Moneda, Barrio Bellavista, and Cerro St. Lucía. However when we went to El Mercado Central (Santiago’s famous fish market), we witnessed something truly fantastic. We saw the legendary cueca.

As stated, it is a courtship. Apparently, there are also multiple types of the cueca. My ex-host mother explained it to me when I visited the family yesterday. One is more subtle and suave, and the other is much more abrasive and flirtatious. Can you guess which one they are doing? (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

The cueca is the national dance of Chile. If my memory serves me right, it was created by the huasos (cowboys) in the fields long ago. It is a courtship dance supposedly resembling the movements of the majestic chicken. The dancers, male and female, casually flirt, stamp their feet, and twirl handkerchiefs as they try to entice the other. Chileans have a lot of pride for this dance – it is deeply rooted in their culture. When you mention the cueca, everyones’ faces light up, and some even mimic the cueca’s iconic tapping right where they stand.

See the dance in action! (Recorded by PintsizedPioneer)

I have heard about this dance from day one and feared I would not see it this trip. Lucky me!

After having a lunch of ceviche and erizo (sea urchin), we returned to watch them. My friend was even dragged into the dance and was forcibly twirled along with some other unlucky participants. Overall though, at least for me, the experience was wonderful.

Careful with the full screen mode: It makes the video very blurry. Also, “thank you” random Chilean guy that walked in front of my video – much appreciated. If you are wondering about the jostling of the camera at the end, I was searching for coins as the nice lady was coming around with a collection hat. Nevertheless, I consider it a nice, short video of Chile’s traditional baile (dance).

There is currently a photo contest going on hosted by Pearson’s World Language Department, and I am planning on entering a few shots of this fantastic dance. The contest is specifically for pictures taken in countries where French, Spanish, or Italian are spoken, and I assume submissions from Chile will be scarce (let’s hope).

Submission photos should show the country’s culture in monuments, food, events etc. The winners’ photos could actually be used in Pearson programs, and all participants are entered in a raffle for an iPad mini and get a Pearson store discount! If you are interested in this contest, please follow the link above for rules, the release waiver, and more information!

Only one more full day in this amazing country. My family and I are headed to Valparaíso by the sea. I am so excited. ¡Yo nunca he salido Santiago durante este viaje! I am guessing I’ll get some more contest submissions too.