You’re missing out if you haven’t gone to a Dinner Show while staying in Santiago, Chile. There are a bunch of tours with “dinner shows” out there but I highly recommend downloading TheBesty app to find the best ones with the top shows and dinners.
On my favorite Dinner Show tour, you can enjoy music from 4 different regions in Chile: the North, the Center, the South, and Isla de Pascua. Chile is one of the longest and narrowness countries in the world, which allows it to have a variety of cultures and traditions!
The North is known for its style of dance that follows the annual celebration called “Fiesta de La Tirana”, to honor Virgen del Carmen. The South is known for Mapuche Ritual Dances, since a lot of indigenous inhabitants, specifically the Mapuche, live there. In Easter Island or Isla de Pascua, there’s a popular dance called sau sau and a ballet called “Aromas de Tahití”. And throughout the country, people dance cueca, a national dance where men wear huaso (cowboy) outfits and women wear pretty flower dresses.
I went to a dinner show last Friday and it was incredible. I can’t imagine any other place where you can experience and enjoy all of Chilean’s different dances in one place! It’s a 4-in-1 dance show! The dances were all very unique and the different costumes that the dancers had on were incredible and beautiful.
If you’re looking to take in a traditional Chilean dance with some great local cuisine, check out this fantastic dinner and dancing experience here.
Here are short descriptions about each dance.
In the north, Fiesta de La Tirana is a festival that happens every year on July 16 in La Tirana, a town in the north of Chile. Today it is one of the biggest festival in the region. Many years ago, the ceremony was only a small celebration to give respect and honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom is Virgin Mary in her role as a patroness of the Carmelite Order. But then in 1830, when the region became known for its natural resources of potassium nitrate which was essential for many factories during that time, more workers came to live in the area. These workers would frequently visit the chapel of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which led them to join in on the annual celebration. Throughout time, the celebration kept getting bigger and today, the ceremony is now celebrated by thousands of people. For you to imagine how big the ceremony is, there are nearly 200 different dance groups that participant in the ritual, honoring the image of Virgen del Carmen de La Tirana. Promeseros, Cuyacas, Gitanos, Chunchos, Pieles Rojas, Morenos, Indios – are just a few names of the groups. Here’s a great video showing the Fiesta de La Tirana and the different dances that exist:
Moving on to the south, the Mapuche ritual dance is for worshiping the divinity. For many people, it is also a healing ceremony. There are many types of dances here. The ritual dances, the Nguillatún and the Machitún, are done to pray to the supreme god Ngenechen and to the rehue or canelo tree – which is sacred to the region. There is also the loncomeo, a dance that imitates the movements of animals around a fire. In these ritual dances, the people wait for the presence of the Machi, who is the shamanness of the Mapuches; she is the intermediary between mortals and the spirit world.
In Easter Island, the sau sau dance is to show dedication to the gods and nature. The dance is characterized by the movements of the dancers’ waist and hip, the wave-like movement of their arms and hands, and the movement of the flowery garlands flowers that they wear.
Last but not least, throughout Chile and especially in the more central regions of the country, people dance to Cueca, the National Dance that is often done during the country’s Independence Day. There are many forms of this dance but a common one is a courtesy elegant style where a woman holds a handkerchief up in the air and approaches or moves away from her male partner in either slow or quick steps. There’s also another style called the “Sombrerito” – where the woman holds a hat instead of a handkerchief – and at the end of this dance, the couple hides their faces behind a hat – and kiss!
I highly recommend going to a dinner show like the one I went to! You not only get to see these different culturally significant dances, but you’ll also get to taste and enjoy some of Chilean’s most traditional dishes. I had a lovely night eating lomo, pastel de cholco, and cazuelas, seeing the dances, and even dancing with the dancers at the end of the night! This is definitely a a top experience you have to do when visiting Santiago!
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