Sanjuanero & Guabina folk dances

The department of Huila has two regionally famous folk dances, one called the Sanjuanero and the other, the Guabina. The former can also be seen in the department of Tulima (which borders Huila) and the latter, in most Andean departments. To give an idea of where I am talking about, here’s Huila on a map (the little dot in the middle is its capital, Nieva).

Picture 1


The Sanjuanero is a type of Bambuco dance, which according to the site Magdalena Rafting is the basic tune and the most important and representative musical and choreographic expression of the Andean region, for its wide dispersion, covering 13 territories. Its origin is hybrid, as it conjugates Indian tradition melodies with various rhythms. It is vocally interpreted by two voices. There are six varieties of bambuco: Sanjuanero (also known as bambuco fiestero del San Juan), Rajaleña (bambuco sung in roguish couplets), Fandanguillo y Capitusez (bambucos in duel of couplets), Vueltas Antioqueñas, and Guaneña.

The bambuco is as a sentimental expression, “a country idyl”, that marks shy stammering of love in the steps of a candid dance. The man pursues delicately; the woman consists shyly.

The Sanjuanero was born from the indigenous tribe Los Bombuca from which the term Bambuco originates. The name San Juan comes from the 24th of June which is San Juan day (right after St. John’s Eve), although the 29th of June (San Pedro) is a big larger and contains more celebrations. For some pictures of dancers in typical dress and some information and history (in SP), go here.


(although this example is from the department of Boyaca)

The Guabina, according to Magdalena Rafting, is a sung tune, rather than danced; it is exclusively vocal (singing with no music), and in the interludes, the torbellino is danced. The danced guabina has a single sample called the guabina chiquinquireña; the instruments used to accompany the guabinas keeps its traditional richness, and is supported in the part of the melody by the fife and small guitar (tiple), some times aided by the coarse cane flute, and always by the chucho, carraca, quiribillo and cane rasp, as by the tambourine and the puerca or zambumbia, in the rhythmic part.

As a Spanish word, guabina can refer to the song/dance, to a simple person, a type of fish or a tool used to control domestic animals.


One thought on “Sanjuanero & Guabina folk dances

  1. Pingback: Andrea Echeverri says ‘Ruiseñora’ is ‘Intimate, Confrontational, and Creative’ | Sounds and Colours

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