Culture and traditions

The typical dances of Panama

The folklore of Panama encompasses a significant number of dances that vary depending on the region in which we find ourselves. In this article, we talk about the most prominent Panamanian dances and show you images and videos of them all.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.


Point It is one of the most famous dances in Panama. This one is played by a couple. Start with the man with the left knee on the floor and shaking hands with the woman.

There are two types different: the santeño point and the ocueño point. Likewise, each step has its own name, because the dance is divided into the walk, the zapateo, the escobillao and the seguidilla.


Bullerengue or bullarengue It is traditional of the Caribbean Coast of Colombia and of the province of Darién, in Panama. The descendants of the maroons, former African slaves who led a life in freedom.

This Panamanian dance was performed in the past when the woman had a party because the man had returned from a jungle hunt. Although only women dance in Colombia, in Panama it is done in pairs. During the dance, the man tries to kiss the woman and she avoids it.

The little drum

The little drum It has been represented in Panama since the 17th century and its origin is a combination of Spanish culture and that of former African slaves. In it the musicians play drums and clap their hands.

Depending on the region in which we find ourselves, we can observe a different style. These are the most prominent:

  • Los Santos (santeño)
  • Chiruquí (Chiricano)
  • Two Rivers, Dolega
  • Remedies
  • Cocle (Coclean)
  • Veraguas (veragüense)
  • Ocueño
  • Parita and Santa Marina
  • Panama Province
  • Chorrera (chorreano)
  • San Miguel
  • Portobelo

The denesa

It seems that this dance comes from another call the marjoram, but unlike this one, the denesa It is danced in a hall and not outdoors. Its choreography is quite easy and, to represent it, they must be performed two rows: one of men and one of women.

The cumbia

In cumbia we find a combination of the Spanish, indigenous and African tradition. It is practiced mainly in the Azuero peninsula and in Veraguas. The steps have these names:

  • Walk
  • Seguidilla
  • Brushed
  • Laps
  • Simple shoe
  • Shoemaker's shoe
  • Running shoe
There is a type of fast-paced cumbia that is known as the traverse. It is typical of the Azuero peninsula and belongs to the genus of cumbia santeña.

The cumbia is loose when enough couples go at the same time and change their companion. On the contrary, it is called cumbia amanojá when the woman is holding the man and is a ballroom dance. In this video the interpreted cumbia is Long live Panama:


Congo it is danced on the coast of Columbus and represents the cruelty suffered by the black population during the colonial era, when slavery was allowed. It's a dance expressive in which the interpreters go barefoot.

The dancers wear pretty colorful costumes and some of them wear masks. In the dance several characters are represented, such as the slave, the filibuster (foreigner or tourist) or the devil. It is very important improvisation.

Gammu Burui

He gammu burui It is a native dance of the kunas, an indigenous people of Panama. This is danced in groups and the instruments are only played by adults, as it is a dance that is part of the puberty rite. Start with a slow pace but finish fast.


The Palo de Mayo or May Pole It is a dance that takes place around a stick about 3 m high from which colored ribbons come out. Its origin is European and it is interpreted mainly on the island of Colon, Bastimentos and Bocas del Toro.

Its origin is European and is represented on May 1 to celebrate the arrival of spring. It involves between eight and twelve couples. Each person grabs a ribbon and everyone is dancing around the stick until knitting and weaving the ribbons on it.

Cucuá dance

This aboriginal dance takes place in the population of San Miguel Center, in Cocle. He was about to disappear but now he has recovered thanks to several dance groups.

The costumes worn during the dance are made from the wood of a tree that is also called cucuá. Its interpretation is simple, but the number of dancers has to be odd. With this video you can learn more about this curious dance:

Dirty Devils

This Panamanian dance is represented during Corpus Christi in the Villa de Los Santos, in the province of Los Santos. Other traditional dances such as the Spanish Montezuma are also held here.

The dance of the Dirty Diablicos is called that way because before the costumes were elaborated with dirty blanket that was painted and that, with the sweat, it was with the mixed colors.

The disguised are dancing from house to house. During the interpretation, they make a zapateo with quarries, which are typical sandals from Panama.

Great devil

This dance represents the fight of good against evil. During his interpretation different characters appear, which are the following:

  • San Miguel Angel
  • soul
  • Devil Major
  • Devil Captain
  • Devils guides
  • Devils

It is danced during the day of Corpus Christi in multiple areas of the country such as Portobelo, Garanchiné and San Miguel. It has influences from both Spaniards and indigenous peoples.

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