Better known internationally as the “the Mexican hat dance ” the Jarabe Tapatío has come to symbolize Mexico both inside the country and outside. The word Jarabe is likely from the Arab word “xarab” which means “herb mixture”. Tapatío is the nickname given the people of Guadalajara .
The earliest evidence of the dance comes from late 18th century. Female couples originally danced it in order to avoid the disapproval of the church. Shortly before the Mexican War of Independence, mixed couples began to perform it, with a public performance at the Coliseo Theater in 1790 in Mexico City. Shortly after that performance, the Jarabe was banned by colonial and religious authorities as it was considered to be morally offensive and a challenge to Spain’s control over the territory. However, this only served to make the dance more popular as a form of protest and rebellion, with people holding illegal dances in public squares and neighborhood festivals.
Just after Independence, the Jarabe and other dances grew and spread in popularity even more, with no colonial-era restrictions. People celebrated the end of the war in 1821 with large fiestas, which prominently featured this typical dance. Jarabe and other folk dances came to be seen as part of Mexico’s emerging identity as a country. The Jarabe would maintain various regional forms, but that associated with Guadalajara gained national status, becoming not only popular in that city but also in Mexico City as well, as a dance for the elite around the 1860s. By the Mexican Revolution, it had become popular with the lower classes as well. During the Revolution, the dance's popularity waned somewhat until Guadalajara music professor Jesús González Rubio composed a standard melody for it as a symbol of national unity, leading the dance to become the “national dance” of Mexico and the melody to gain wide popular recognition. It became internationally famous after Russian dancer Anna Pavlova added it to her permanent repertoire after visiting Mexico in 1919.
The jarabe remained in vogue in Mexico until about 1930, especially in Mexico City. It remains taught in nearly every grade school in Mexico.
The typical male and female costumes to dance it were used one hundred years apart from each other. The China Poblana was the female servant outfit of the early to mid 1800's. The Charro suit decorated with silver buttons, came about with the emergence of the Mariachi around 1930 after going through numerous evolutions, from the hacienda supervisors to the modern urban musicians.
In the video, you can watch part of our process of learning the conchero's dance combined with a video of a performance by Ballet Folklórico de México Amalia Hernández. Unfortunately, just like with the other dances, we couldn't give as much attention to this dance as we wished. All we had was a few days of grasping it, by learning from videos.
The content of this publication is a compilation of information gathered from the following sources: