Fandango (dance)

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Date: 1717 1776

Region: Europe South America

Subject: Explicit Sexuality Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Dance


Fandango dance.jpg

Artist: Developed in Latin America, exported to Spain in 1700

Confronting Bodies: The Spanish government, the Roman Catholic Church

Dates of Action: 1717, 1776

Location: Spain, Rio de la Plata (roughly equivalent to modern Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia)

Description of Artwork: The fandango is an intimate dance accompanied by singing, a fiesta, and instruments. The dancers are accompanied by guitars and dance slowly and rhythmically until the musicians pick up the tempo and every once and a while stop the music. While the music is stopped the dancers perform complicated moves, all the while singing sexually and politically provocative lyrics. This pattern continues until another couple enters the process.

The Incident: The Roman Catholic Church regularly condemned the dance as being lewd and morally dangerous. It was also thought to be potentially subversive. In Spain there was an economic collapse from 1709-1711 and grumblings of discontent grew stronger. The government feared large gatherings of people and in 1717 an intense campaign began against regional folk cultures. A ban was put on the fandango, which was condemned as offensive to the nobility. The playing of castanets in public was also forbidden because they suggested disorder and rebellion. In 1776 a crown minister described the dance as reprehensible and in the same year the viceroy of Rio de la Plata banned the dance.

Results of Incident: Eventually the fandango could no longer be suppressed and became acceptable again.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia