There are more than 70 musical genres in Cuba, which is why many call it the Island of Music. In the first place we must mention Salsa, Son or Danzón, although Cha-cha-chá, Mambo or the noisy Timba also stand out, without leaving aside others born centuries ago, such as the Zapateo.
Zapateo is a Cuban stomping dance of Spanish origin emerged in the distant 1550s as a cultural expression brought to life by Spanish colonizers who settled in the countryside and liked to dance in their leisure time and festivities.
Its name comes from the way the rhythm of the music compels dancers to strike the floor with their shoes. According to musicologists, it is possibly of Andalusian origin and akin to some dances of Celtic influence in Europe, although others hold that its roots are in the Canary Islands.
The term refers to the percussive footwork that involves the dancers’ shoe clicking and tapping as they keep time with music, and has among its distinctive features the game of courtship between the man and the woman, who dance without touching one another: the woman stands upright, holding her apron or skirt with both hands as the man leans slightly forward with his arms crossed behind him and pretends to be chasing the body of his female partner with his head.
The Zapateo is accompanied by the singing and clapping of the participants of the guateque, the peasant party that gathers musicians and dancers. The fact that it is considered a dance of guajiros (people from the countryside) is perhaps the reason that it has been a little marginalized. Not that I am in favor of having Zapateo music or dance in our nightclubs, but we should not forget it, because it is a very Cuban rhythm and part of our most authentic roots.