It’s more like a party than a traditional performance. Oaxaca’s annual Guelaguetza folkloric festival draws crowds from throughout Mexico and all over the world.
If you hang around the stage at the end while most of the crowds leave, you might be handed a small cane cup filled with mezcal and get a close-up photo, too.
I hosted a group of Australians and we had third row seats. That’s the luck of the draw, plus mostly getting to the tourism office early. We bought these tickets in early June.
Even photo out-takes are worth looking at!
For a discussion about the cultural and political controversy surrounding Guelaguetza, see my July 24, 2014 post.
People ask me all the time if Oaxaca is safe. There were 11,000 people in the audience, plus all the performers. Instead of the crush, we did the WAVE!
The exit is through a narrow underground tunnel and then down the Cerro del Fortin steps. Most of us left that way! Everyone was calm, helpful, friendly, gracious and orderly.
We took a few minutes to stop and look at the stunning views of the city and the Santo Domingo Church below.
Is Oaxaca safe? YES!
One big crowd pleaser is the Dance of the Feather — Danza de la Pluma. It is a story of the Spanish conquest over the Aztecs. Many villages do this ritual dance. It is an important part of indigenous Mexican identity.
The chief dancer is the Moctezuma, and featured are two girls, each representing the duality of Mexico — The Malinche and Doña Marina — who are one and the same. How high the dancers leap is a feat of pure prowess and determination.
Everyone in the crowd was hoping to catch a pineapple — one of the Guelaguetza gifts thrown — actually hurled — from the stage into the audience by each village represented.
If we had our hands and a hat up, we got bread, radishes, lettuce, palm hats and fans, rolls, tortillas, sticky tamarind fruit, ritual bunches of fragrant greens.
I managed to catch a bunch of bananas that I shared with my neighbors in keeping with the meaning of Guelaguetza. Only the front row received the pineapples. I think the organizers were afraid of injury!
By the time we left the auditorium it was almost 10 p.m. We were hungry and thirsty. Somehow, sweet rolls didn’t seem enough. My mantra: time for a mezcal margarita and a good meal. This is the hour most Mexicans have their dinner! It was way past my bed-time.
Our group of five women walked about six blocks to La Biznaga where we were lucky to find an open table. Beware: the margaritas are especially potent! The spinach lasagna (yes, Italian) was wonderful. Safe? Yes!