What Makes You Want To Dance

  • Michelle Bigenho


Many Bolivian musicians in La Paz expressed absolute disdain for cumbia music, and yet during my fieldwork, this genre was probably the single most popular music in both urban and rural contexts. Its presence was ubiquitous in almost any social gathering that involved dancing. While the cumbia genre is usually associated with Colombian origins, many of the recordings that made their way to Bolivia emerged from recording productions in Mexico. The strong distaste for this music—Colombian, Mexican, or even the locally modeled sound-alikes—was often framed in terms of a sonorous invasion of Bolivian territory. Cumbias had seeped into Bolivia, and according to some people this music was seen as polluting the sonorous environment, clogging radio waves, social contexts, and public spaces.


Music Performance Popular Music Musical Experience Symphony Orchestra Musical Expression 
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  1. 12.
    For an analysis of Oruro’s entrada and its multiple meanings in relation to miners, see June Nash’s We Eat the Mines and the Mines Eat Us (1979).Google Scholar

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© Michelle Bigenho 2002

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  • Michelle Bigenho

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