Candombe in Uruguay. The rhythm catches you!

Have you ever heard the sound of the drums playing Candombe in Uruguay? Listening to them will make you vibrate to the core. Joy, dance, colors, and laughter characterize this rhythm. We invite you to learn a little bit more!

Candombe is one of the oldest artistic expressions in the country. Recognized as Intangible Heritage of Humanity, it is one of the attractions that tourists cannot miss.

History of Candombe in Uruguay

The Candombe is a cultural manifestation originated by the slaves who arrived from Africa in the colonial era, during the second half of the 18th century. During those times, the port of Montevideo was the entryway for Africans to the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. At the end of that century, a quarter of the population descended from them. In their free time, they continued to hold the rites of their lands, and by 1800 these celebrations were known as tangos or tambos.

The essence of Candombe

The candombe arises from “La Cuerda”, which is a group formed by three types of drums: “Chico”, “Repique” and “Piano”. Each drum is played by hitting the batter head with a drumstick and an open hand; it is slung over one shoulder to be able to walk while playing. There is also a dance group in which we can recognize different characters, each one has its typical customs and dance style. The combination of both, the dance group and group of drums (“La Cuerda”) is known as “Comparsa” in Uruguay.

Typical characters

In the “Comparsa” you can see different traditional characters such as:

• “Gramillero” – who represents the group’s African doctor or healer. He wears a tailcoat, top hat, cane, glasses and has white beard. He carries a suitcase with herbs with healing properties.

• “Mama Vieja” – in colorful outfits, with a hand fan and an umbrella, dances slowly flirting with the “Gramillero”.

• “Escobero” – initially used to guide the drums during the parade with a cane; nowadays, this character dances with a small broom, which with its movement, follows the rhythm of the drums.

• “Vedettes” – are the ones who add sensuality to this dance, evoking rituals and usually dancing in front of the drums.

Where to see Candombe in Uruguay?

Candombe is played throughout the year in the different neighborhoods of Montevideo. However, where it can be most appreciated is in the Sur and Palermo neighborhoods on weekends, when the groups go out to rehearse on the streets to prepare for the “Llamadas” Parade.

The “Llamadas” Parade takes place in early February, and it is the most important Candombe event. These groups prepare their show throughout the year to present it for one night. At we sell packages including transfers, preferential entry tickets, and tour guides.

You can enjoy Candombe not only in the “Llamadas” Parade. also offers a dinner-show that includes a Candombe and Tango show on the same night.

While visiting Montevideo, do not stay with the desire and enjoy one of the most convincing, cheerful, and picturesque shows in Uruguay. You will live an unforgettable night of singing, laughing and dancing.

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