You don’t have to wait until the end of July to get a glimpse of the Guelaguetza celebrations in Oaxaca. Several restaurants offer the opportunity to sample a smorgasbord of the dances that represent each of Oaxaca’s eight regions while dining on a vast buffet of traditional Oaxacan dishes.

Despite being held indoors, down to the smooth host and gorgeous dishes, this evening of sensory stimulation is reminiscent of a Hawaiian luau. It is a good way to stick a toe into the culture, but it is nothing like the deep dive into Oaxaca’s music and dancing and mezcal for the two festive weeks that are the Guelaguetza festival.

At the Quinta Real show (, attendees certainly miss some of the excitement of the offerings (including pineapples and bread) that are thrown to the crowds in the streets and at the official stadium, but the pageantry and artistry are tantalizing and well worth the ticket price.

–Carl Sandburg
THE LADY in red, she in the chile con carne red,
Brilliant as the shine of a pepper crimson in the summer sun,
She behind a false-face, the much sought-after dancer, the most sought-after dancer of all in this masquerade,
The lady in red sox and red hat, ankles of willow, crimson arrow amidst the Spanish clashes of music,

I sit in a corner
watching her dance first with one man
and then another.

  • There are at least 105 names for dances–from allemande to zouk ( Have a character literally dance, or use dance as a metaphor for an otherwise inanimate object.


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