Origins of the dance

There were a few dances resembling the Macarena:

Charles Koeppen ckoeppen@VNET.IBM.COM writes:

There is a song on a compilation CD of 50's and 60's New Orleans R&B artists called New Orleans Gumbo, Still Cookin'. I forget the artist, but the song is called Check Mr Popeye parts 1 and 2. Part one is just the song, for part two the words are a dance description but without the jump and turn. The CD liner notes say that this is the song that started the Popeye dance craze in New Orleans in the 50's.

The Popeye is also somewhat close to the Gator (actually closer because it has the "move to the left and move to the right" in it), a dance a local DJ recently introduced to us as being the one that Macarena evolved from. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Gator is from New Orleans because of its name just like I know the Popeye is because of the CD liner notes.

Paraphrased from a newspaper article:

The song was written by Antonio Romero and Rafael Ruiz of a group called Los del Rio, in Spain in 1993. "It was a brief hit in Spain at that time. It found its way to Latin America, where it was discovered by a Miami DJ."

Despite its success in clubs in the US, no radio station would touch it. At the same time, it became popular in European clubs. Then a French record company commissioned a video and that was apparently what led to it really taking off. The article doesn't say when the video was released.

An American dance instructor, Mia Frye, was the original choreographer for that video, (and, I presume (me talking now...), for the dance we see all the time.)

By: MIREYA NAVARRO 1995 N.Y. Times News Service

MIAMI -- A few years ago in Caracas, Venezuela, a flamenco dancer so moved Antonio Romero that he blurted out a compliment in verse as she performed: ``Give your body joy, Macarena, that your body is to give joy and good things!''

That verse in Spanish has since become a song by Romero, and that song has spawned a dance that has swept nightclubs in Europe, in Latin America and in American cities such as Miami. In the last year, the song and dance have crossed over to weddings and office Christmas parties, beauty pageants and tour boats, restaurants and ball parks.

The Macarena song, as it has become known, has sold about 1 million copies worldwide, mostly in Mexico, Spain and the United States, according to its U.S. distributor, the U.S. Latin division of BMG, a unit of Bertelsmann AG.

But to measure its popularity, it is better to turn to Miami Beach, where customers at outdoor restaurants drop their forks in the middle of dinner to stretch out their arms, swing their hips and jump 90 degrees to the right in the steps of the dance.

Or to Seattle, where Edgar Martinez, slugger for the Seattle Mariners, has it played when he comes up to bat. Or to Houston and Key Biscayne, Fla., where thousands have come together to try to set Macarena dance records.

Disk jockeys say that the Macarena song enlivens dance floors and that its flamenco and Latin rhythms have an international flavor. But they also say its appeal traverses not only countries but age and ethnic groups because it is simple to dance to.

``It has childish elements, like little jumps and shaking,'' said Aida Levitan, organizer of ``a giant Macarena dance'' at the Fair of Seville in Key Biscayne two weeks ago, which attracted about 10,000 people.

``It's catchy,'' said Gordon Kushnick, general manager of H.D. Hotspurs, a club in Kent, Wash., that holds a ``Macarena Night'' every Thursday for those who do not tire of dancing repeatedly to it. ``It also kind of looks cool.''

Los Del Rio, the flamenco singing duo from Seville, Spain, who perform ``Macarena,'' say they have no clue about why the song has created such a rage.

The two 47-year-old singers _ Antonio Romero and Rafael Ruiz had recorded more than 300 songs since they began their professional career in the 1960s, many in the pop-flamenco style popularized in the United States by the Gypsy Kings.

In a telephone interview from Spain, Romero said he wrote most of the song on the same night that he was inspired by the Venezuelan dancer, turning the compliment into the song's chorus.

He then added lyrics that tell of Macarena, a vain girl, and her boyfriend ``of the surname Vitorino,'' a major cattle company in Spain. While Vitorino is being sworn in as a soldier, the song goes, Macarena is flirting with his friends and dreaming of shopping trips.

When ``Macarena'' came out in April 1993, it became that year's summer hit in Spain, Los Del Rio said. Then last year, they said, their record company was bought by BMG, which decided to market the song internationally.

Promoted mostly in clubs with videos and dance teachers, the song became popular in Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and some American cities, said Rogelio Macin, sales and marketing manager for BMG's Latin division in the United States. Many Americans, he said, picked it up in travels through these countries and on cruise ships, where it has become a staple.

The song reached Billboard's list of the top 20 hot Latin tunes this year and has sold about 280,000 copies in the United States and Puerto Rico, Macin said. But this holiday season appears to be giving it extra staying power as more people are introduced to it.

``It was a great hit at the Christmas party,'' said Bob Getto, 37, vice president of retail sales for a New York City clothing company. ``The DJ came down to show everybody how to do it, and we had a range of people from 65 to 25.''

By now there are numerous Macarena versions and different countries have added variations to the basic moves of the dance, which requires a 360-degree turn to be completed in four jumps to the right.

Los Del Rio alone have recorded six versions of the song, including one in which a female voice has been added to expose Macarena's true colors. (``Now don't you worry about my boyfriend,'' she tells her suitors in English. ``I don't want him. Can't stand him.'')

Everywhere they go, Los Del Rio say, mothers tell them about a new crop of baby girls named Macarena. The name is a woman's as well as that of one of Seville's oldest neighborhoods and of a revered virgin. But Romero said his muse was actually named ``Diana Patricia.''

Little known outside Spain before their current success, Los Del Rio plan a tour of 10 American cities and the Philippines early next year. They doubt they will ever top the song's success.

``Go ask Frank Sinatra if he has come up with another `New York, New York,' '' Ruiz said.

Excerpts from an Associated Press article, "Adios, Electric Slide: Macarena's here," as it appeared in The Daily Illini, Friday Sept 6 1996, page 2:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Diana Patricia Cubillan is La Macarena.

The 25-year-old, 5-foot-3 Venezuelan flamenco dancer was the inspiration for the song ["Macarena"] ....

Five years ago, Cubillan met a two-man Spanish flamenco group called Los del Rio .... The three hit it off -- "a perfect fit," she recalled ....

A year later, she happened into a performance by Los del Rio ... and they invited her up on stage to dance. ...

She was just warming up when Antonio Romero -- half of Los del Rio -- offered a few words of encouragement ....

"Dale a tu cuerpo alegria, que tu cuerpo es para darle alegria y cosas buenas" -- Give your body joy, because your body is for giving happiness and good things.

... "When Antonio saw me dance, the words just came out. His inspiration was me," Cubillan said. ...

Los del Rio ... could not be reached, but their representative ... confirmed Cubillan's story. ...

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Juan-Carlos Formell, a musician from Cuba, writes:

"[The Macarena] is, in fact, a direct, albeit moronically simplified, copy of "El Mozambique," a dance style and musical rhythm created in Cuba in the 1960s by Pello el Afrokan.

Not only was it the dominant music in Cuba throughout that decade; the dance was later reborn as "Az'ucar," a hit song by the contemporary Cuban dance band Ritmo Oriental in the mid-1980s. It was probably seen by Spanish tourists and taken to Europe, where it was watered down and renamed."

Excerpted from the 9/6 Raleigh News & Observer:


Students in Wake schools can be taught the two-step, the polka, the waltz, even the hokey pokey, but a new dance craze that has swept the nation - the macarena - has been banned.

Wake school officials, worried that the macarena - its dance steps and lyrics - may be too provocative, have ordered PE teachers across the county to drop it from their lesson plans. ...

Up to Thursday, students had been getting lessons in the dance ...

But one [mother] didn't like what she saw and called to complain. Word made it to the school system's central office, where [asst. superintendent] King ruled that the dance didn't fit with the program.

"Recreational dance is in the curriculum," King said. "The macarena is not. We have no reason to teach this dance."

King said she was also troubled by the lyrics to the music for the dance, which shares the same title.

"The music is questionable. And if it's questionable, we shouldn't be doing it." ...

Teachers had not been told to teach the macarena, but they may have had reason to think of it as a good lesson. They danced it themselves at a back-to-school teacher workshop last month. [remainder snipped]


Who does the song?

We do Macarena sung by Los Del Rio. They have it out on a CD of their own, I'm not sure of the title. It is also on a CD called "Macarena Mix", it has 2 versions done by Los Del Rio. Track 1 is what we use, the last track on the CD is also by Los Del Rio, but it's the fast version. This one is put out by BMG.

Ok, so how does it go?

Counts  Action

1       Right arm out  palm facing down
2       Right arm still out flip palm so facing up
3       Left arm out palm facing down
4       Left arm still out flip palm so facing up
5       Put Right hand on left arm- other side of elbow
6       Put Left hand on right arm- other side of elbow
(5-6 = arms are now crossed in front of chest)

7       Right hand behind right ear or back of head
8       Left hand behind left ear or back of head

1       Right hand to left waist in front
2       Left hand to right waist in front
3       Right hand to right waist in back or on hip
4       Left hand to left waist in back or on hip

5-6     Wiggle downward twisting knees in a Latin way
7-8     Jump quarter turn left 7=prep jump 8= jump

Wanna see it in animation? http:images/Macarena.gif

The Lyrics

"Macarena", by Los Del Rio

Dale a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena
A tu cuerpo hay que darle alegria y cosas buenas
Dale a tu cuerpo alegria Macarena
Oooooh Macarena! Aaaaah

Macarena tiene un novio que se llama
Que se llama de apellido Vitorino
y en la jura de bandera del muchacho
se la dio con los amigos

Dale a tu cuerpo...

Macarena suenya con el Corte Ingles
Y en comprarse los vestidos mas modernos
Le gustaria vivir en Nueva York
Y tener un novio nuevo

Dale a tu cuerpo...

Translation from, by (Stasic)

Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)

(I am not trying to seduce you)
When I dance they call me Macarena
And the boys they say que soi buena (?)
They all want me, they can't have me
So they all come and dance beside me
Move with me, jam with me
And if you're good I'll take you home with me

Dale a tu...

Now don't you worry about my boyfriend
The boy whose name is Vittorino
Ha!  I don't want him, couldn't stand him
He was no good so I... (giggle)
Now come on, what was I supposed to do?
He was out of town, and his two friends were soooooo fine!

Dale a tu...

Come beside me my name is Macarena
I'm always at the party 'cause I think it's cosa buena (?)
Come join me, dance with me
And all you fellas tag along with me

Dale a tu...

Macarena Humour

Is it true that Al Gore led the Democratic Convention in the Macarena?

Yes -- sort of, last night, when he gave his speech accepting the nomination for the Vice Presidencial candidate, the background music was Macarena -- you could see one sign langauge interpreter interpreting the music with quite a bit of relish, while the other seemed to be simply waiting for Gore to begin.

For those who missed it, Gore's Wednesday night performance was terrific: He led off his speech asking the audience if they wanted to see his version of the Macarena--he indicated that delegates had done the dance on the floor earlier. Of course, he stood absolutely stock still for a few seconds and then said, "Do you want to see it again?"

I personally found it an inspired performance. [ (Virginia Spatz)]

This performance led to the following remark by Bill Clinton: "Al Gore is doing for the federal government what he did for the Macarena. He's removing all the unnecessary steps."

The Internet Oracle explains the origins of the Macarena

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

Oh far sighted Oracle, who taught Nostradomus everything he knew;

Is it true that the unfortunate "Macarena" dance craze sweeping the
world is one of the signs of the coming of the Apocalypse?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Oh sure, go ahead.  Humilliate me.  Tell everybody that Nostradomus
} was my high priest before Zadoc!  One too many ZOTs and the guy goes
} off the deep end.
} As for the Macarena signalling the Apocalypse, don't get your hopes
} up.  The whole thing was a mistake.  A 38-year-old woman from Miami
} was at a San Francisco disco one chilly evening.  She was pleading
} with the manager to turn up the heat.
} WOMAN: [holding out first one arm and then the other] Look at these
} goose bumps!  It's too cold!
} MANAGER: [arms crossed] No way.
} WOMAN: [placing hands on shoulders] But I'm FREEZING!!!
} MANAGER: Next time wear long sleeves.
} WOMAN: [placing hands on ears] The music's too loud too.  This place
} MANAGER: So pay your bar tab and get out of here.
} WOMAN: [checking her back pockets] Oops, I must have left my wallet in
} the car.
} The other disco patrons, being, after all, disco patrons, mistook the
} woman's movements for a dance.
} You owe the Oracle a 4000 volt electric slide.


Reason #173 to fear technology...

       o      o     o    o     o       o>   o    o>    o
      .|.    \|.   \|/   //    X     \      |    \    x    |    <|>
       /\     >\   /<    >\   /<     >\    /<    >\  /<    >\   /<

       o      o     o    o     o
      <\>    </>   <\>   )     |=
       >\    /<     >\   >>    |

      Mr. Asciihead learns the Macarena.

Can you show me?

Last modified on: 2000, Wednesday April 12.

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