27 July 2015


I had written down somewhere that we should go to Tonala on July 25 to see the Dance of the Tastoanes.  I have a lot of things written down that we haven't had time to go to and I didn't really know much about this one. When it turned out that we'd be in Guadalajara on the 25th I started reading more about it to see if we wanted to go.  And yes, we wanted to go, although we didn't go to Tonala.

The Dance of the Tastoanes is a centuries-old dance that started in Spain, but it's a lot more than a Spanish import here in western Mexico. That link explains it better than I ever could, although the author hasn't been to Jocotan or San Juan de Ocotan since he refers to them as towns or villages.  They used to be but now they're part of the Guadalajara metro area right and most people drive by them without ever going into them.  But they're very close to us and we know lots of people in both neighborhoods so I was delighted to discover this and it consumed most of the weekend. I highly recommend seeing this if you're in Guadalajara in late July or early September.

First, some logistics.   There are several towns/suburbs that do this dance.  Most do it on July 25-27 for Santiago's feast day, but Jocotan and Santa Ana do it on around September 7-9 (and in Jocotan, they plan it on August 15 which is also Dia de Atole and everyone gets atole that day).  We skipped Tonala because we've been there before and it's not my favorite drive but we did go to San Juan de Ocotan twice, Nextipac, and Ixcatan.

Each place has its own style of masks and clothing.  I'd read than Nextipac was the best place to go but when we arrived at around noon on the 25th we learned that they don't use the older leather and wood masks (more on that later), but instead use flexible leather or plastic masks that we've seen in a lot of different rituals and dances.  They were just beginning the mass before the dance so we didn't stay there long and went back to San Juan de Ocotan where we'd been earlier that morning.  That's the place I recommend going if you just pick one place if you're interested in the masks.

We also went to Ixcatan on Sunday afternoon.  Their masks were again a little different, and so was the clothing.  I'd been wanting to visit Ixcatan since the location looked interesting and I wasn't at all disappointed.

My husband went to Jocotan and then Ocotan on Saturday evening to find people who make these masks and talk to them.  He was also able to learn a little more about the entire event, like who provides the food for the entire town for three days.  More on that later too.

We have a lot of photos!

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