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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cartagena, Colombia and the “Blues”


Those dances were called "therapy" because of their ability to help people relax and free themselves from the economic problems of the country.

I just fell in love with new genre of music called champeta, which originated among Colombians of African decent in and around the city of Cartagena de las Indias, better known as simply Cartagena. Although, I was in Cartagena in 2010, I did not learn about champeta until recently (2012) when I met one of my new Facebook friends, Denís who who lives in Cartagena and explained a youtube video to me featuring this music.


Although, champeta is new to me, it was first used as a culture in the 1920s; identified as a dance in the 1970s, and as a musical genre in the 1980s. Before the 1920s, people in Cartagena's poor Black communities called it 'champetudo'. Like African-American blues, the upper class citizens used this designation as an attempt to devalue this vibrant culture and was associated it with vulgarity, poverty, and blackness, having a historical past marked with slavery and mistreatment.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the Champeta culture became more visible at a national level in Colombia through a series of diverse and complex dances set to the rhythms of Caribbean music. Those dances were called "therapy" because of their ability to help people relax and free themselves from the economic problems of the country.