On the day of the Santos Inocentes, 28th December, Malaga capital celebrates the Main Verdiales Festival. In the San Cayetano inn at Puerto de la Torre lots of pandas (groups of musicians and singers) gather from surrounding villages and thousands of Malagans go there during the day to enjoy the festive atmosphere. “Verdiales” are played, following the tradition of the bands of verdiales who toured to raise money for people injustly imprisoned.

According to some writers the verdial was the “ancient” predecessor of flamenco. The origins of the verdial song and dance are unknown although it is thought it may have been a Phoenician dance later adapted to the rhythms of Christian rituals.

Typical dancing and songs from Malaga

The songs are happy and the dancers play castanets decorated with long multicolored ribbons. They are accompanied by guitars, primitive violins of 2 strings and tiny metal cymbals. The verdiales are a colorful display of popular folklore due to the spectacular handicrafted hats, decorated with bright flowers, pieces of mirrored glass and multicolored ribbons.

The verse or copla is usually the classical quatrain, sometimes with an extra line becoming a five-line verse. The dance, generally performed by partners, is gracious and simple. Its structure is usually made up of 3 verses with different corresponding steps, many of which are jumps. The movements in between the verses before the exchange of places become those of the Sevillana dance, slightly simplified and with constant jumping. The arms are in constant movement. The dancers move towards and away from each other playfully, turn their backs, watch each other, change places etc. As a rural dance it is performed wearing alpargatas, a sandal-like shoe with a sole of plaited hemp, decorated with vibrantly colored ribbons attached to the leg.

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