Colombia is a country with immense folklore that encompasses different styles. Here you will find the characteristics of the main dances of the territory divided by regions. Also, we indicate in which departments the most popular are practiced.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Caribbean coast

It is the northern region of the country and the place of origin of several of the most important dances in the country. Some of its most important cities are Barranquilla, Cartagena de Indias and Santa Marta.


The cumbia can be considered a black dance, since it comes from Equatorial Guinea. It has its roots in African culture. The instruments with which it is accompanied are drums, bagpipes and flutes.

The musicians are placed in the center, on a platform. It's a dance in pairs. The woman puts her left hand on her waist, grasping the end of the skirt, while in her right hand she holds a lit candle.

While the men perform more acrobatic and expressive movements, the women move with short steps and an upright posture. Her wardrobe consists of a colorful skirt called skirt, a blouse, a bouquet of flowers on her head and colorful necklaces.

The man is dressed in white. The pants have a gathered at the back called cabbage. Her shirt is round neck and has an ornate front. They tie a red scarf around their necks and wear a hat on their head.

Some of the most outstanding cumbias are The colored skirt, Tripping, The canoe, Hooked y Colombia dear land. The latter is interpreted in the following video:

Also, from this dance derives another called Gaita. In addition, there are some, such as the Puya, a dance from the XNUMXth century, that have acquired elements of the cumbia.


It is represented by the descendants of the maroons, the former rebellious slaves who lived in freedom in the Palenque de San Basilio, in Mahates, Bolívar.

The Bullerengue is danced only by the of, which sing at the same time. Its origin is African, where it was part of the initiation acts carried out by young people.

Traditionally, it has been transmitted orally from generation to generation. It has a marked rhythm, played by two drums: the caller and the happy or female.

The women move with an upright position and taking small steps, which may be reminiscent of those of the cumbia. It is a festive and joyful music.


This dance of African influences was spread around the Magdalena River. The mapalé, name of the dance, is also the meaning of a fish that is fished in this part.

It was represented at night to celebrate fishing. However, with the passage of time it was modified until it reached the present day, in which it has a strong sexual character.

It is carried out in pairs. Men perform exhibition poses, while women move erotically. The steps are short, the rhythm is lively, and they clap.

The costumes are fresh and brightly colored, since it is a warm area. On the one hand, women wear short skirts that accentuate their movements. On the other, men usually go shirtless.


This folk dance is accompanied by two percussion instruments (the box and the guacharaca) and the accordion. You can add others such as guitar or bagpipes.

It is represented as a couple. Depending on the vallenato, it is practiced more closely or separated. There are no hard and fast rules: the movements are up to the dancers. We find five different rhythms or musical airs:

  • Meringue
  • Walk
  • Pinprick
  • Conclusion
  • Drum

This dance is so important that it is declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. It is widespread throughout Colombia and even other countries such as Mexico, Ecuador and Argentina.


It is typical of the departments of Córdoba, Bolívar, Atlántico and Sucre. It is also very popular in the city of Medellín, in Antioquia, where important festivals take place.

It is a native dance. Little by little, African rhythms and later wind instruments of the military bands were added. It has a four by four measure.

At first it was individual, although today it is considered a couple ballroom dance. There is no established choreography, but rather circular movements are performed. One of the best known songs is The gale.

The Orinoquía

This natural region is also known as the Eastern Plains. It is a great plain where there are important rivers such as the Meta or the Vichada, which flow into the Orinoco, which acts as a border.


This llanera dance is also popular in Venezuela. It has important influences from spanish fandango. Its name derives from the Arabic word xarop, Meaning syrup.

It begins to develop in the XNUMXth century. It is danced in pairs. The body is still, but the feet make a quick click. The man holds the woman's hands and makes the movements, while the woman imitates him.

The instruments with which the music is played are the harp, the cuatro (similar to the guitar) and the maracas. There are different types that have been developed in each area, such as the eastern joropo, the tuyero or the Andean.


It is practiced in popular festivals. It's a dance cheerful and and full of exaltation. It is believed that its name comes from the Fiestas de los Galerones that were celebrated in the seventeenth century.

The Galerón is carried out in pairs, who practice footwork. The man chases the woman. In addition, he wears a handkerchief that he moves and with which he rotates around it.

In the following YouTube video we can see a representation carried out by two couples of young dancers:

Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast is made up of four departments: Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño. This region, located to the west, is the most inhabited by Afro-Colombian descendants.


It is a folk dance from Chocó. It is an erotic ritual between a couple, which performs provocative gestures, footwork and suggestive movements. Is of descent African. Its name derives from the word muzzle, a rope for mooring boats.

To represent it, two lines are formed: one of men and one of women. The dancers do not hold on and sometimes the man surrounds the woman, who wears a wide skirt and short-sleeved blouse.

Jota Chocana and Caderona

Both are mestizo dances, since they mix African culture and European dances from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.

The jota chocana is a satirical imitation of the Spanish jota. It began to be interpreted in the XNUMXth century. It is danced in pairs, standing one in front of the other. It has some differences with the Spanish version. In the Colombian, the movements are faster and more abrupt. However, both clap hands.

In the case of the caderona, while it is being performed, a voice accompanied by a choir is singing the following lyrics: «Caderona, come, meniate. With his hand on his hip. Caderona, come, meniate. Oh! Come, meniate, to fall in love. "

Currulao and Bunde

Currulao is the dance most important of Afro-Colombians in this department. Its story begins with the slaves who worked in the mine in colonial times.

It is represented in pairs, which moves in a circular and linear way, drawing eights. It is a kind of courtship in which the man tries to make the woman fall in love. It is performed with the following percussion:

  • Pumps
  • Drums
  • Maracas
  • Marimba

The same instruments are used in the bunde, but it has a religious character. Traditionally, it was practiced at children's funerals. At present, it is sung only if it is a celebration. If not, its instrumental form is maintained.


It comes from a European dance of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries that was called Crydance, what it meant field dance. It was in the XNUMXth century when the Spanish transmitted it to Colombia.

The quadrille was practiced in the festivities of the upper class. Elegance predominated in her. It lasted about an hour and there was no break in its performance.

This representation passed to the popular classes of the country through serfdom. It is carried out in pairs and has pre-established rules. Among the instruments that accompany it, we find the clarinet and the euphonium. Other dances of European origin are the chotis or the rumba.

Andean region

It gets its name from the Andes Mountain Range, which is located in this area. Here we find different cultural groups, such as the Paisa, the Santander and the Cundobiyacense.


It is the most important dance in this territory and one of the most practiced throughout the country. They have doubts about its history, so there is different hypotheses who speak of an African, indigenous or Spanish origin.

It is another representation as a couple, in which the man invites the woman to dance, with whom he intersects to form an eight. They move with their hands on their waists and playing with an important element: the handkerchief.

Within this genus we find The Guaneñaa song of 1789. Its author is the musician Nicanor Díaz, who composed it in honor of Rosario Torres, of which He fell in love madly. In the following video you can listen to the original song:

Although it is not the official one, it is considered the popular hymn of Nariño. Both song and dance are taught to preschool and elementary school children. The clothes with which it is practiced are warm fabrics and bright colors.

An important variety of bambuco is the Sanjuanero. The music of this style was composed in 1936 by Durán Plazas. It is a very expressive dance in which eight different figures are made.


The whirlwind comes from farmers, which express with it their different feelings: love, religious, disappointment, etc. It is practiced at parties, weddings and pilgrimages.

It is carried out by two people, who go around. The man chases the woman and she runs away. Then the roles are switched. It is an easy and spontaneous dance. Therefore, children can also practice it.


The guabina is a XNUMXth century dance that comes from Europe, although over time it has suffered some regional adaptations. In the past it was persecuted by the Christian Church.

Depending on the departments in which it is practiced, we find three types:

  • cundiboyacense: in Boyacá and Cundinamarca
  • Velena: in Vélez (Santander)
  • tolimese: in Huila and Tolimna


Although salsa originated in Cuba in the XNUMXth century, in Colombia it has great fame and popularity. Throughout the country you can find schools to learn how to practice it.

Colombian salsa has its own peculiarities, as it is influenced by the African movements and the cumbia. Some of the most prominent authors are Joe Arroyo, Cristian del Real and Los Titanes.

Amazon region

This region is located in the south of Colombia. It is part of the Amazon rainforest, the largest forest area in the world. A total of 44 indigenous peoples inhabit it.


It is a dance that is represented in the meeting between the communities indigenous from the Alto Putumayo region. In this ceremony, the villages redistribute food.

The parade is led by a person known as greater matachin, which wears a red mask and a bell. This ceremony is part of the festival called the Carnaval del Perdón.

In this video we can see the different parts of this important indigenous festival:

Offering dance

It is a performance in honor of the people who have already passed away. In it, some of the foods that they consumed in life. Therefore, each dancer carries a wooden plate.

The participants are arranged in a circular fashion. In the center is a man, around whom the rest revolve. Music is played with a flute and a drum.


It is considered the National Dance, since it is not represented in a single region, but throughout the country. It began to develop in the XNUMXth century thanks to the influence of the European waltz.

It is also quite popular in Ecuador. Due to its origin, it is considered a mulatto dance. It was born as a sign of joy after independence from Spain, so it reflects freedom.

There are two different types, interpreted depending on the occasion:

  • Partying: is instrumental. It is represented at parties and weddings.
  • Slow: can be vocal or instrumental. It is performed in serenades.

Top photo by PACAF.

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