Tuesday 9 January 2024

The devils' dance!

Does anyone remember way back in Santiago, at the beginning of our trip, when we were surprised by a colourful parade of people from different countries in South America, but particularly the ones dressed like devils (if you don't, go back to the beginning of August and read the post "A day of native experiences") ? Well, apparently, they do this in Ecuador as well. From the 1st to the 6th of January, in a town called Pillaro, there is a festival where people dress up as devils and parade around town in amazing, but slightly "bloody" and freaky, costumes! The festival is called 'Diablada de Pillaro' and it was such great fun!

There are many opinions of the true history of this parade but one version of the story is that wealthy landowners in Pillaro ushered in the new year with lavish balls before taking their party into the streets, where the poorer locals acted as “bouncers” clearing their way. Eventually, the story goes, the local men began dressing as devils to make their job a little easier. 

In amongst the parade, there are also some bailarines representing the wealthy landowners, all dressed in white with a mesh-mask the colour of the Europeans' skin, and blue-eyes. As the devils lead the parade on, they brandish their whips and try to feed spectators chilies or an alcoholic drink mostly hidden in hooves or mouths of taxidermied animals (such as rats and skunks). They almost have a rebellious air to them, trying to stir things up with the spectators. If you are offered a drink from their bottles, saying no it's not an option! Well...unless you want to get whipped, or even worse get splattered by eggs and sometimes flour :)

At the parade, though the crowds were thick and everyone was jostling for a good spot, we managed to reach a length of road the parade would pass and be at the very front. It felt like we were too lucky, but then, when the devils danced along the street, it was clear that getting a good spot also meant getting squashed and trampled and, unfortunately whipped by the devils' whips. But then again, why be there if you're not going to be part of the fun? And if being part of the fun meant eating pizza from street stalls while watching the parade, then you could count me in!

We followed the parade around and ended up in an open space with the band playing music and the devils dancing more wildly than ever and everybody dancing and singing along! When the band stopped playing, everyone yelled "Banta Banta" asking the band to play again! The lead drummer, had his drum around his neck and, at times, he would signal for everyone to move away and then, he would swing the drum around his head!

We've been on quite a few festivals on this trip, but this one certainly felt like everyone was involved and had great fun. And so did we!


  1. that sounds wild! I wonder what was in the drink?!!
    Sal xx

  2. Whoa crazy time! Were you covered in eggs and flour? Squished? And we are getting very different news here about Ecuador. Extraordinary. Lots of love Margl xx