The Mexican Hat Dance, or the Jarabe Tapatio, has been the national dance of Mexico since 1924, and is danced to music composed in the 1800's. Today, it is popular for Cinco de Mayo parties and fiestas, both in the United States and in Mexico. Here's how to do the Mexican hat dance:
- Dress the part. Though of course this isn't necessary in order to do the Mexican hat dance, traditionally the dance involves elaborate costumes, called the China Poblana and the charro suit, similar to what you may see worn by mariachi bands. The women's' China Poblana outfit is known for having sequins covering the entire surface.
- Understand the theory of the Mexican Hat Dance. Like most popular dances, there is actually a theory behind the Mexican Hat Dance, or a reason for its performance. The Mexican Hat Dance was choreographed to celebrate the end of the Mexican Revolution, and it tells a story of courtship and love.
- Begin the dance. The Mexican Hat dance is performed by a couple. The dance begins with flirting, with the man trying to impress the lady by stomping and tapping his feet and otherwise making endearing gestures towards her. To dance in time with the music, fold your left arm across your stomach and place your right elbow on your left hand. Keep your right hand open, and fling it back while putting your right foot out in front of you, heel down. Then switch arms and heels, and repeat the movement. Switch back to the first side, and repeat the movement again. Finally, clap twice. These steps should be done to the beat of the music, and can be performed in a group, though the Mexican Hat Dance is usually a paired dance.
- Continue the dance. At first his moves impress her, but then she becomes dissatisfied with his pride. He is then shooed away by the woman, but returns and throws his hat or sombrero on the ground, which is the reason for the name Mexican Hat Dance.
- End the dance. At the woman bends down to pick up his hat, which is now on the ground, the man kicks his leg over her head in a gesture of celebration. The dance ends with the couple marching together, with a romantic sentiment. Often, the dance ends in an assumed kiss, which is hidden behind his large hat.
The Mexican Hat Dance is often performed as a sign of national pride. Though it reached its height in popularity in the 1910s and 1920s, it is still a very popular dance today, and is easy to learn. Even children can perform the steps and clapping of the Mexican Hat Dance.