The Chicleros Dance


It rains, the temperature reaches 40 ° Celsius and the mosquitoes pass in waves. Everything is a great green dense with wonders and dangers; it is known as the jungle of Petén, the younger sister of the Amazon. A group of men is advancing slowly along a path that they are forming with machetes. All this happens at the beginning of the 20th century, men look for the chicozapote tree, because they sweat a rubber band that they can sell to the English people living in Belize. They call it chewing gum, and chicleros.

They last up to 6 months in the jungle, waking up at 4 in the morning and walking in the dark between rodents and bats. They are rude and have a reputation for taking out their sharp machetes to be arranged among themselves or among others. They climb trees up to 30 meters and pull the strings from which they will hang to bleed the tree. Then they drain the white liquid in two-kilo canvas bags, up to 10 bags per man, and up to 20 trees per day...

Fed up with the camp or the herd, as they called him, at Christmas and at Easter they went down to the nearby towns to have a little fun. Trendy music sounded in the lighted houses, a curious thing about Belize, the Brokdown.

The chicleros sometimes did not even bathe. It was common to see them with their work clothes: denim trousers, rough and old boots, bandana for sweat on the neck and head, white shirt and of course, his hat. But they did not care. They drank and danced until dawn. They pushed themselves, and they ended up hugging and happy.

This is how the Chicleros Dance was born. One of the few dances that rescues the tradition of Quintana Roo. Its representation in our days seeks to reflect this characteristic episode of the chiclero camps in the state and, at the same time, to recognize the old trade that for centuries has marked the local culture.

The dancers dress in the traditional style of the chicleros and their companion wears a plain skirt of strong color, white blouse, apron of bushes, white shoes, the hair gathered in a chongo, and some pots tied with rope.

The rhythm may seem foreign to the beginning; it is not a zapateado nor a harmonious wiggle of the body, the chicleros move like dancing a little reggae, a little mambo, a little drunk. They chase the woman across the stage and constantly sharpen their machetes on the ground. She rejects one by one while they talk, argue and celebrate. In the end, a chiclero is chosen, and his long working days, the dangers he went through in the jungle, his fatigue and his poverty are rewarded under the oasis of a huge cook's skirt...

Galería - La danza de los chicleros

Marvel at the sight of The Chicleros Dance with this photo gallery

Danza de los chicleros

Learn more about The Chicleros Dance


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