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Costa Rica distinguishes itself with its very happy people. No matter where you go there are things to celebrate and there are parties and there is dancing. Popular dance in Latin America developed through many generations, thanks to the fusion of different cultures principally originating from Africa and Europe.

How did popular dance arrive?

Costa Rica DanceThe arrival of the Spaniards in America in 1492, the black slave traffic originating from Africa and the native musical forms created by our aborigines resulted in a great diversity of types of dances. The African influence was decisive in the development of the rhythms that we dance today. To better understand this historical and cultural development, you must take into account the economic, social and political relations that existed between the more important shipping ports of the hemisphere.

The principal contact was mercantile (but in the end, cultural), between ports such as Havana in Cuba, Cartagena in Colombia, the coastal zone of the Caribbean Central America, Ri�o de Janeiro in Brazil, Ri�o de la Plata in Argentina and others. All of these points were fundamental in the process of exchanging sounds and as such simultaneously created a great variety of rhythms that in determined regions had better development; such as in the case of calypso in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the Bahamas, the son and bolero in Cuba, the plena in Puerto Rico, the merengue in Haiti and Dominican Republic, the cumbia in Colombia and Panama, the tango in Argentina and the samba in Brazil. After a while, the appearance of the record and radio industries intensified the exchange and created more contemporary rhythms like reggae, salsa, mambo, chacha and others.

Describing the dance

For some people, to dance is just to move and nothing more. Other people add to it the definition of the words rhythm, flavor and coordination. Those who know it deeply describe it as a language of the body that permits the corporal communication for the couple or with the surroundings and gives the human being an opportunity to express sentiments and sensations, all through the movements that the body produces. Dancing, as a social and cultural practice, permits the interaction of people with others and is fundamental in our society for the level of social significance and function that it possesses.

For example, in the context of parties and discotheques, if a person knows how to dance, independent of his or her social class, they can acquire more respect in as much as it represents a certain ability that others do not possess. On the other hand, this person will enjoy his or herself more because they will not remain sitting down listening to the music while the others enjoy themselves. Also, the majority of our dancing activities are governed by a determined social or family significance as in the celebration of a fifteenth birthday, a wedding, a party, carnivals or the celebration of a birth.

Another function of dancing is to interact

One way to get to know a girl is to invite her to dance: some have luck, others do not. Still, as such, they continue going to the parties and dances that never end, and who knows: at one of them you might get lucky! Apart from that, and maybe with the purpose of always having in mind how they came to know each other and how they fell in love, many couples have established the custom of going out to dance.
People also go out to dance just for fun: is one of the most exciting exercises.

The "Multiculture" of the Ticos

Costa Rica has not succeeded in creating its own rhythm, musically speaking. There are many who make the rounds of the radio broadcasts, the bars and the discoteques. The well known Creole "swing", for example, is not a rhythm but a dance form of the cumbia. Still as such, our country is one of those Latin American countries where they dance a lot.

Costa Rica DanceWe have the privilege of being multi-cultural; we dance to everything from rock and roll to "danzon" or "salsa". Besides, we have succeeded in recognizing more different types of "boleros" than any other country, each with its own style and defined steps. Among them are the "Bolero Son", the "Clasico", the "Pirateado", the "Marcado", the "Bachata" and the "Jaramillo". These boleros differentiate themselves by some being slower or faster than others or having more pronounced steps.

Costa Ricans must feel proud of this great capacity to dance to whatever rhythm and not feel excluded from other countries that have their own rhythms.

Cheek to cheek

The dance form depends upon the music and a lot upon the persons. There are those who prefer to dance "loose"(one in front of the other without holding hands) and there are those who prefer to take their partner and hold them very close, regardless of the rhythm. The ideal is to adapt to the type of music and in this way take better advantage of the movements they can make.

Every era has different tastes based on the music idols of the time. Therefore, older people prefer the boleros (harmonious songs of slow rhythm) and younger people prefer accelerated and changing rhythms such as rock and pop. But age is not important and all are able to enjoy these or those rhythms and dance, as they prefer best.

In the great variety of musical tastes, in an effort to summarize, you can say the most popular and most danced to rhythms in Costa Rica are "salsa", "merengue", "cumbia", "reggae" and "pop".
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