The Mexican Danzón: Ritual of Sanity, Pride in Tradition
The Mexican danzón has enjoyed over one hundred years of inclusion in the embodied culture of Mexico. This section on the danzón will trace its origins from Cuba in the nineteenth century, its importation and popularization in Mexico in the twentieth century, and its rebirth at the turn of the twenty-first century. In its inception, the Cuban danzón was an enactment of restrained sensuality as the black and white cultures entwined in the late nineteenth century. In the l940s and l950s danzoneros packed Mexico City ballrooms to savor the romance it (alluded to and) offered and to escape from the industrial grind of urban life. In the l960s and l970s the danzón had been pushed to the periphery of nightclub entertainment as first rock and roll and then disco dancing from the United States invaded Mexico. At the end of the century the danzón began to enjoy a retro-movement among the urban dancing population. It became both a participatory event for the middle-aged and senior citizens (baile de salón), and a performance vehicle for the younger generation (baile de exhibición). It has also emerged as a symbol of the Mexican defiance to the imprint of globalization. As one cultural promoter from Veracruz remarked, “Danzón is a return to sanity, which Mexico so badly needs” (González 2005: p.c.).
Keywords: Dance Anthropology
Dr. Susan Cashion
Senior Lecturer, Drama Department, Dance Division, Stanford University