By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
Originally known as “baile y tierra” (dance and land), the cachimbo (a rhythm and its associated dance) arose in northern Chile (towns of Tarapacá, Mamiña and Pica, Tarapacá region) around 1800. Despite the fact that its most traditional form has been hardly spread throughout the country, it still can be found at Carnival, on occasion of the feast of patron saint and at family celebrations. On the opposite, one of Chile’s most successful rhythms is the “cachimbo of Tarapacá”, which has been popularized and disseminated by folklore academies. This is usually played by brass bands, traditional tropas (tuned consorts) of panpipes (“lakitas”), ensembles of guitar, charango and quena (notched flute) and also on the piano and the harp.
The cachimbo is also a loose couple dance that represents the loving siege of a woman by a man. While dancing, both dancers perform different figures carrying a handkerchief in their right hand. Even though the cachimbo bears some resemblance to the cueca, it is a slow and stately dance where the man dances with gallantry towards the woman, always maintaining a respectful distance between them.
Between 1966 and 1992, Chilean musicologist Margot Loyola carried out several field researches, collecting valuable information from those who had traditionally cared this dance. The outcome of her efforts came to light in a book published in 1996 (“El cachimbo: danza tarapaqueña de pueblos y quebradas”), which still remains the most comprehensive information resource on the cachimbo.