“The Mexican Hat Dance” is the sobriquet given to this Central American dance style known as Jarabe Tapatio. This ‘hat dance’ is said to have originated from Mexico, and is also popular in countries such as Cuba, Peru, and Dominica Republic.

The Mexican folk dance known as the Jarabe Tapatio is frequently referred to as Mexico’s national dance. 

Apparently, this dance was initially performed by female couples only, so as to avoid direct confrontation with the church. Over the years gradually this dance style has evolved into a “couple dance” that basically represents a courtship between the male and  female sexes.

a. History and origin of the Jarabe Tapatio Dance:

According to the cultural history of Mexico, this dance was first discovered in the late 18th century. Initially, this dance was performed only by female couples so as to avoid direct confrontation with the church.

However, it was just before the “Mexican War of Independence” that males as well as females began performing this dance style.

Furthermore, it was in 1790 at the Coliseo Theatre located in Mexico City that this dance was performed publicly for the first time.

Although this dance was banned for a period of time by religious groups and colonial authorities, it regained its popularity sooner rather than later.

After Mexico gained its independence in 1821, there was a newfound awareness of its culture, and Jarabe dances became even more popular as the country’s sense of identity grew.

There are other Jarabe varieties, such as jarabe de Jalisco, jarabe de atole, and Jarabe Moreliano, but the Guadalajara-based Tapato variety is the most well-known. The dance honors passionate courtship.

It then maintained its popularity in Mexico City till about 1930. As of today though, according to music researcher Nicolas Puentes Macias, this dance form is almost extinct in the country.

In fact this dance as of today is said to have evolved into another form known as “Tonadilla”.

b. Costumes used in the Jarabe Tapatio Dance:

The costume used in this dance form varies according to the gender, and they are as follows:

For men:

The attire worn includes a traditional Mexican dress known as “Charro” which is usually  decorated in “silver trim”.

For women:

The attire worn includes a traditional Mexican outfit known as “China Poblana” which consists of a blouse and skirt. Furthermore, this dress has been apparently named after a woman from India who came to Mexico to work as a servant during the early 19th century.

c. Music involved in the Jarabe Tapatio Dance:

The musical instruments generally used in this dance form include guitars, harps, and violins. Furthermore, the music for this dance is usually composed by the “Mariachi” bands.

d. Training availability and the technique involved in the Jarabe Tapatio Dance:

In terms of technique, in this dance the male performer attempts to seduce his female partner.

Furthermore, in response this attempt by the male is initially rejected by the female, but is eventually accepted only on further persuasion. In addition, this dance also involves body movements such as hopping, sliding, and kicking.

As for training centres/schools, there are not none available around the world since this “hat” dance has mainly been performed and taught only in Mexico (i.e. in grade schools).

 e. What does Jarabe Tapatio represent?

Jarabe Tapatio, also known as the Mexican Hat Dance, represents the vibrant culture and traditions of Mexico. The dance originated in the 18th century and is a symbol of national identity and unity, celebrating the country’s music, dance, and folklore.

It is often performed during festive occasions such as Mexican Independence Day and is recognized as an important part of Mexico’s cultural heritage.

f. Why is Jarabe Tapatio so popular?

Jarabe Tapatio is popular for several reasons:

  • Firstly, it is a lively and energetic dance that showcases the grace and skill of the performers. The dance also has a catchy and upbeat rhythm that makes it easy to dance along to and is enjoyed by people of all ages. 
  • Additionally, the dance has become a symbol of Mexican culture and is often performed at cultural events and celebrations, helping to promote and preserve Mexican heritage. 
  • Lastly, the dance has been featured in various forms of media, such as films and television shows, which has helped to increase its popularity and exposure to a wider audience.

g. Some of the Best Jarabe Tapatio Dance videos:

Jarabe Tapatío – Traditional Mexican Dance
Tradicional baile del Jarabe Tapatio
El Son de la Negra – Jarabe Tapatio – 50th Wedding Anniversary Dance Performance
El Son de La Negra/Guadalajara
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