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Centro de Información al Turista CIT
Vuelos a Nicaragua

Music and Dancing

The marimba is Nicaragua’s national instrument. It is made of timber films over bamboo or metal tubes of different lengths, played by using one, two, or four sticks -similar to drum sticks. Guitars and some percussion instruments usually accompany it. Nevertheless, the marimba predominates in the central and western departments of the country.

In the Atlantic coast (which could also be defined as the Caribbean Coast), the music has a strong afro-Caribbean influence and its rhythms are intense, sensual, and frenzied. The best occasion to see this aspect of our culture is during the Palo de Mayo (May Pole) festival in the city Bluefield.

There is also a strong theatrical heritage from our native ancestors. Enchanting music accompanies their plays, carrying you back to another era as you enjoy the show.

The majority of these shows are performed during town festivals, and on occasion at the Ruben Dario National Theater. Among the most important portrayals are the “Nicaraguan Native” and an epic drama of “El Gigante” (The Giant), also known as the fancy Gentleman “El Toro Guaco” which is a simulation of the conquering Spaniards; the “Gueguense” is a depiction of the mockery of the Spaniards.

El Gueguense

El Gueguense is a theatrical play, a summary of Spanish and Indigenous fusion where theater, dance, and music combine. It is considered one of the most distinctive expressions of the colonial era in Latin America.

In 2005, UNESCO declared this theatrical play to be an Oral and Ethereal Patrimony of Humanity.

Summary of El Gueguense or Macho Raton

The play begins with a conversation in which the Spanish Governor Tastuanes orders the Sheriff to forbid singing, dancing, and entertainment of any kind, within the Royal Municipality because they are going through a period of grave poverty. At the same time, he orders that no one enter the province without his permission.

The Sheriff blames the poverty on a so-called “Gueguense” who happens to be in the area of the realm. The Governor orders that the Gueguense be brought to him immediately.

The Sheriff introduces himself to the Gueguense as a servant of the Governor.
The Gueguense has already heard of the Governor’s orders, but pretends to understand that the Sheriff is looking for a calf or a colt. He turns to his sons and says this to them.

When the Sheriff speaks to him, the Gueguense treats him as a servant. The Sheriff corrects him and tells him he must “fly” to meet with the Governor.

“Running and Flying?” – says the Gueguense. “How does he want a poor old man, suffering from continuous pain and calamities to run and fly? My friend, Captain Sheriff Major and the goldfinch that sits at the entrance of Governor Tastuanes door, what does it do?” The Sheriff answers “Singing and entertaining the big lords”.

Then the Sheriff offers to show him how he must greet the Governor. The Gueguense agrees to take the lesson, but he makes fun of the Sheriff’s request for payment for the lessons with a series of jokes and play on words. Finally, he agrees to pay the Sheriff once he has received the promised instructions.

The Sheriff recites the words of greeting, which the Gueguense pretends not to understand, but rather repeats similar phrases that would be considered impolite to the Governor.

The Sheriff gets impatient and begins talking back to the Gueguense, repeating what he has to say, but the Gueguense continues making fun of what the Sheriff is trying to teach him and continues to change its meanings. See the Complete Play (Link to INC web site).


The word Folklore comes from two English words:
Folk – People
Lore – Knowledge

Nicaraguan music and dances demonstrate their best folklore primarily in the celebrations or festivities on behalf of their town patrons. They are the reason and opportunity for many expressions of folklore.

Patron celebrations are the result of Spanish colonial influence with a mixture of the indigenous races, combining Spanish and Indigenous elements into each demonstration.

Among the best-known folklore dances are:

• Gigante
• Bailes de Negra
• Toro Huaco
• Bailes de Húngaras
• Guegüense
• Bailes del Mestizaje
• Toro Venado
• El viejo y la vieja
• El Tinco
• El Atabal
• Chinegro
• Promesantes
• Palo de Mayo
• Los Zompopos



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