On Sundays, in October and November, in celebration of Masaya's patron saint, San Jerónimo, dancers take to the streets and to the homes of friends and relatives to perform El Baile de Negras. It's not known for sure just when and from where this dance originated but it's certain that the culture that surrounds today's Baile is vibrant, engaging and a source of Nicaraguan pride.
Most notably, all the performers are men. They show off in elegant costumes and bedazzled footwear representative of countries around the world, and use delicate, hand-painted mesh masks that obscure their own features. Although communication between dance partners is limited due to hidden facial cues, the skillful choreography, and excellent coordination of costumes and accoutrements results in an impeccable presentation. A small ensemble of musicians accompanies the entertainers, showcasing traditional marimba music.
Every year, an animated crowd of locals and visitors alike comes out to follow en mass, rain or shine. The admiration is palpable and the camera phones get a work out.
See more photos of El Baile de Negras
Watch videos of El Baile de Negras
Jessica Schugel is Owner and Tour Director at Buen Viaje Tours.