La Bomba Traditional Dance | Start Living Ecuador
The Chota Valley is located to the north of the country between the Esmeraldas, Imbabura and Carchi provinces. A beautiful green valley in between arid mountains where you can taste some of the sweetest grapes. It is home to close to 25000 inhabitants. Almost all of them are of African descent. The “grandsons” of the original slaves brought to the Americas by the Spanish church and such, for a long time, these people that had no rights at all. Taken from their homes, sold for working the arid climate of this region, oppressed and slaved for several generations.
No need to raise any kind of amber alert here my friends. We are going to talk about a musical rhythm, a very particular one that grew out of harsh conditions, and is another reason to start living in Ecuador and enjoy it.
Their last names until today were imposed by the slave traders that didn’t understand African languages and so used their origins to name them. Last names like Mina, Minda, Anangonó, Chalá, and others refer to places in Congo, Nigeria, Kenia, Angola, etc.
El Chota (as is known today), is the home of some of the best athletes and soccer players the country has seen.
These people developed, as is the case in most parts of the world where slaves were taken, a unique culture, rooted in ancient beliefs and created their own identity.
In Ecuador, part of that new identity was music, a way to escape the harsh conditions imposed by their owners. And from the desire to create and feel independent the «bomba» is born.
It begins as a mean to communicate for the slaves, the word Bomba is of African origin (Ewe). It is also the name given to a percussion instrument used for the dance, like a drum. Made out of a hollow ring and covered by hand with goat skins and tightly strung with a rope over the period of a month.
The Bomba appears around the beginning of the XVII century and is an expression of the black people voice and its culture, the songs are based on historical accounts. Many of the dances are still reminiscent of African dances. Most of the songs are actually very sad stories hidden behind fast rhythms. You can remember the story of the clown painting a smile on his face to hide the tears. Other songs were created about the daily life and love and happiness.
As for the dance, it is a very sensual one, the women “flutters” around, being very flirty, around the men that are supposed to be winning them over. As she dances, always wearing big dresses, they carry, balancing on their heads, a bottle of liquor. It moves a lot but never falls.
Wherever the bomba is playing, gambling is always present. Whatever the reason they place small bets to get money for the booze later. It is a party after all.
The typical bomba ensemble has a guitarist, the bomba (drum) player, two singers, the first is the lead voice and the second carries the chorus and almost always plays the maracas.
As we said before, is a party, and one that has survived for many generations and many injustices. So take the route north and go to El Chota to catch a glimpse of the Bomba. The rhythm will stay with you forever.
If you want to enjoy other activities apart from the ones offered in Montecristi Golf Club, here is another one of our recommendations.
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