Joy is one of the most used words to describe the people from Cartagena and the festive atmosphere that is experienced in the city, where people dance to different rhythms, but the favorite will always be “la Champeta”, a musical genre with ancestral sounds that thrill people of all ages when it starts to sound.
In the streets, clubs or bars; with relatives or friends, “la Champeta” is always enjoyed, and especially when November and its acclaimed “Fiestas de la Independencia” arrive and these songs become the soul of the party. People cannot help themselves singing the catchy lyrics of this musical genre that is part of Cartagena’s tradition, while jumping, dancing enjoying and pouring water with flour.
“La Champeta” is a cultural expression emerged thanks to the influence of the African roots that you find in Cartagena. Throughout time it has had several changes, so that innovative rhythms have been born, usually called new wave or urban “Champeta”. However, the emotion you feel dancing it, is still the same.
All social levels enjoy this music, and even tourists love it. You can dance “Champeta” from the Bazurto Market, to the modern Bocagrande neighborhood, although there are those who say that the best stage to enjoy these melodies are the “picós”, places where crowds gather around a powerful sound system, that counts with consoles and great amplifiers that reproduce “Champeta” while the audience dance and drink a refreshing beer.
“El Rey de Rocha”, “El Imperio”, “Gemini Estereo” and the “RS” are all part of the most traditional “picós” in the city, custom that began between the 40’s and 60’s and has prevailed over the years. By dancing “La Camita”, “El Caballito”, and “Los Golpes o El Choque”, people celebrate to the sound of this rhythm that has become into one of the international representatives of the city.
In Cartagena “La Champeta” of different times survives. This is how we can hear “La Muha”, “El Giovanni”, “La Paleta de Chocolate”, “La Bollona”, among other African songs whose names were adapted by the Spanish speakers, along with classics of the genre, typical of Cartagena such as “La Monita Retrechera”, “Los Trapitos al Agua” or “La Suegra Voladora”, which currently are joined by hits of urban “Champeta” artists such as “Mr. Black”, “Koffee el Kafetero”, “Zaider”, “Young F.”, “Kevin Flórez”, “Papo Man”, “Luister”, Gi Black”, and, recently, “Yuranis la Leona”.
“La Champeta” vibrates, it is felt on the skin and in every movement. It allows an unmatchable connection with you dance partner, so, if you visit the city, go ahead and live their “Fiestas de la Independencia”, learn the most popular dance passes, and experience go to a “picó”. Without a doubt you will have fun and you will get to know plenty of Cartagena’s culture and history.