Huasos are the chief performers of cueca, Chile’s national dance – a curious cross between English morris dancing and smouldering Sevillanas. Its history can, in fact, be traced to the African slave dances, which were also the basis of the Brazilian samba and Peruvian zamacueca, and were introduced to Chile by a battalion of black soldiers in 1824. During the War of Independence, Chileans adopted their own forms of these dances known as la Chilena, la Marinera and el Minero, which eventually became a national victory dance known simply as the cueca. Although there are regional variations, the basic elements remain unchanged, consisting of couples strutting around each other in a courtship ritual, spurs jingling and handkerchiefs waving over their heads. The men are decked out in their finest huaso gear, while the women wear wide skirts and shawls. In the background, guitar-strumming musicians sing romantic ballads full of patriotic sentiments. If you are going to a fiesta and want to take part in a cueca, remember to take along a clean white handkerchief.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Chile features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

South America has become a favoured destination for the intrepid backpacker, and while it’s impressive in the astounding diversity of its nations, there are a…

02 Mar 2016 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

National parks are some of the world's most awe-inspiring natural places, taking in mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and forests (sometimes all in the same one…

02 Jul 2015 • Rebecca Hallett help Quiz
Off the map in the Atacama: Chile's eerie ghost towns

Off the map in the Atacama: Chile's eerie ghost towns

Thousands of foreign travellers visit the geysers, salt flats, oases and volcanoes of north Chile’s Atacama Desert, but few make it to two of the region’s m…

14 Jan 2015 • Shafik Meghji insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month