In the first place, we can state that there are several theories about the etymological origin of the word cueca. However, one of the most accepted has come to determine that it derives from “clueca”, which refers to the fact that the hen sings after having laid an egg.
The cueca is a dance originating in South America, traditional to countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Peru. In this dance, people wave a handkerchief held in their right hand while performing half turns, turns, and flourishes.
This dance is danced as a couple, made up of a man and a woman. It is generally assumed that a man inviting a woman to dance a cueca wants to court her, although her romantic interest is not a precondition for dancing.
The origins of the cueca are not clear, although Spanish, African and aboriginal influences are noted. It is believed that the zamacueca emerged from the jota and the fandango, from which the cueca would derive.
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It is important to keep in mind that the cueca developed in different ways depending on the country. That is why it is possible to differentiate between the Chilean cueca, the Bolivian cueca, the Argentine cueca, etc. In addition, there are numerous subgenres within each national cueca: the porteña cueca, the brava cueca, the tarijeña cueca, the Cueca cueca and others.
In Chile it is one of the countries where the cueca is more important. In this country it is considered that its origin is possibly in the black slaves who came to this land on their way to Peru. However, it is true that there are different theories about it.
It was in the cantinas where, during the 19th century, this dance spread and became popular both inside and outside the country. And it is considered that it was precisely thanks to the Chilean adventurers and sailors that it reached other corners of the world, as would be the case, for example, of Mexico.
As for the composition as such, it should be noted that in Chile it is made up of fourteen verses that are distributed throughout a total of four stanzas, which are a couplet, two seguidillias and a closing. In the same way, it should not be overlooked that it lasts less than 2 minutes and that it takes place in a 6/8 rhythm.
To all of the above, it must be added that there are many topics that can be dealt with in a cueca. However, among the most common are historical facts, love in all its extension and picaresque issues.
It should be noted that the cueca, in addition to a dance, is a musical genre. Cueca compositions are usually performed with instruments such as the guitar, harp, piano, double bass, accordion, and drums.
Although the cueca lost popularity as the 20th century progressed, it still remains an important part of South American folklore. Chile, for example, declared the cueca its “national dance” in 1979, while a decade later it established the National Cueca Day (September 17). Bolivia, for its part, named the Bolivian cueca as part of the country’s cultural heritage in 2015.