When I was a child, I would hear my father playing these songs that sounded like marching band music. Well, that’s the way it sounded to me back then. My Dad told me the dance to this music was called El Paso Doble and it was the dance of los toreros (Bullfighters). He would grab my hand, put his around my waist and lead me around the room. I loved dancing with my father; it was always so much fun, although he was a little stiff at times. Growing up with this music made me wonder why is this the dance and music of the Bullfighters.
“The Paso Doble is one of many Spanish folklore dances from Spain and it’s associated with different facets of Spanish life.” The name means “two steps” in Spanish due to the fact that you are taking a 1-2 marching step when doing this dance. The music is played when the torero walks into the ring, thus the marching band sound. This music is also played when the bullfighter has slain the bull. I remember as a young teenager going to the bullfight and hearing the people cheer “Ole” every time the Bullfighter would wave his cape at the bull, and then when he finally killed the poor animal. Bullfighting dates back to ancient Crete; it wasn’t until the 1700s that it arrived in Spain.
The French had an infantry march called Pas Redouble which was done in 1790. The steps are very similar to that of the Paso Doble and the music is in 2/4 time with several breaks in between. When a couple is doing this dance, the man dances the part of the torero and the woman pretends to be his cape. This is why you may see them posing during the breaks in the music. This is not a social dance ; it is primarily performed in exhibition or competitive dance.
Nowadays, El Paso Doble is danced in Ballroom competitions in the U.S. and Europe. Normally the Paso Doble is danced to the songs España Cañi or El Gato Montes, two very well known bullfighting anthems. I can still see my father’s face with his serious look pretending to be the torero and me acting as his cape. It was always so dramatic and exciting for me. How much I miss those days dancing El Paso Doble with my Dad. Ole!
by Rosie G.