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Travel Themes » History & Culture

Music & Dance

Nicaragua’s music and dances represent the deep cultural roots of the country. The music comes in all different shapes and forms, narrating unique tales and stories of local renowned personalities, places or historical events. Another way of expressing the country’s culture is through traditional dances, some indigenous and other characterized by the crossbreeding of different ethnicities. In Nicaragua’s case this happened between Pre-Columbian groups and Europeans. "El Gueguense", proclaimed by UNESCO in 2005 as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is a forceful expression of protest against colonial rule. El Güegüense is a satirical drama well known throughout Nicaragua. It is performed during the feastival of San Sebastián, patron saint of the city of Diriamba in Nicaragua’s Carazo province. El Güegüense, a synthesis of Spanish and indigenous cultures combining theatre, dance and music, is considered one of Latin America’s most distinctive colonial-era expressions.

The vast variety of traditional music as well as the large amount of Nicaraguan singers is certainly remarkable. “Los Hermanos Mejia Godoy y Los de Palacaguina” is the most well-known music group in Nicaragua and their fame has reached beyond borders. Carlos Mejia Godoy, the lead musician of the group, composed the famous song “Quincho Barrilete” that won the first place in the international contest (OTI) in Spain, in 1977. The lyrics of the song were about the social injustice lived by the poor children at that time. Other famous songs are: “Alforja Campesina”, “Perfumes de Mujer”, “La Tula Cuecho”, and other outstanding folkloric music. 
Tino Lopez Guerra, Erwin Kruger and Camilo Zapata are other famous Nicaraguan musicians who were known as the “golden trio”. “Caballito Chontaleño”, “Barrio de Pescadores”, “Solar de Monimbo” are among some of their most well-known compositions. Besides traditional folk music, other Latino rhythms such as merengue, salsa and bachatas are very popular among Nicaraguans and can be heard on the streets and in local dancing places. Merengue, salsa, cumbia and bachatas are played at wedding parties, birthday celebrations, anniversaries, or any other special festivities events. 
Also traditional dances are certainly an important and interesting way to learn about Nicaragua’s culture. Most of these dances are performed during special events like patron saint festivities, school presentations, or any other relevant celebration day. 
A very representative dance of the Nicaraguan pacific is “Las Inditas”, of which young beautiful women, dressed in long embroidered white dresses and red ribbons, dance at the rhythm of marimba music. They hold on their heads fruit baskets representing the hard working women of Nicaragua. Also “The Mestizaje” is another authentic dance symbolizing the blending of Spanish costumes native ones. Their plain clothes turn into colorful dresses, hats decorated with feathers, a feathered fan, white stockings, short pants, and shoes. Los Aguizotes as well represents a major tradition at the end of October of every year. During this festival thousands of people from the city of Masaya wear masks and customs featuring spirits of the dead and characters from indigenous horror stories.   
Furthermore, the Caribbean of Nicaragua has a traditional dance called “Palo de Mayo” whose rhythm and music can be enjoyed during the carnival celebrated in the month of May in Bluefields. During this annual festivity, the locals set up a pole decorated with colorful ribbons representing the nature and the beautiful blooming flowers of this time of the year, while people dance around the pole.

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