Dancing With the Devil

Text: “My grandma told me this story from a time when she was young and she liked to party in downtown Juarez, Mexico. In the late 1950s, my grandma was in her late teens, and one night she went out to party. As she became drunk throughout the night and enjoyed her time with her friends, a Tejano with a tall figure and blue eyes asked her to dance. She said yes, and as the night went on, the dance floor became more vibrant and she lost track of time. Suddenly, the doors shut and no one was allowed in or out. Because the dance floor was so full, people couldn’t see that this man had the feet of a goat. She tried to leave the club, but the man chased her to the door, and the lights went out. One by one, people started to get murdered, and there was an eerie laughter in the background. She noticed what was going on, then she was able to find an escape route through the back of the building.”

Context: My informant – a 29-year-old man from Las Cruces, New Mexico – told me this story, drawing on the legend he and his siblings would hear from their grandmother as they progressed from adolescence to young adulthood. He explained to me that this was a story he heard from his grandma whenever he would come home late or be out with friends, and he believed it basically served as a warning to not spend too much time out of the house and away from family or else the Devil will come for you.

Analysis: Upon investigating this legend, I came across a news article titled “San Antonio’s Dancing Devil of El Camaroncito.” In this article, the story parallels the one my informant told me almost to a tee, describing a man dressed to the nines who wooed all the ladies in attendance and swept them off their feet. However, as the night went on, people started to recognize that his feet were not those of a human, and after people started to panic, the man fled out of the nightclub through an open window. While the story described in the news article is almost exactly the same as the one my informant told me at the beginning, my informant’s version takes a darker turn, with the dancing Devil going on a murderous rampage in the club. I was curious to understand what might have caused the two stories to end on two drastically different notes.

My informant heard this story from his grandmother, a devout Catholic woman. As someone who also grew up in a Catholic family, I know that the over consumption of alcohol is considered to be a sin. In his grandmother’s version of the legend, she had indulged excessively in alcohol, and that ultimately brought her face-to-face with the Devil. Among a crowd of excessively intoxicated people, the Devil began to claim his sinful souls, stealing their lives and taking them back to Hell for their sins. This story told to my informant by his grandmother is similar to an example provided by Larry Danielson in his chapter on religious folklore. Danielson recalls the anxieties recounted to him by Roman Catholic friends and family before their first communions as they “had been warned by their elders, sometimes by their parochial school teachers, that if they chewed the communion wafer, their mouths would fill with blood” (50). Danielson describes how this is a prime example of religious folk belief, as it isn’t upheld by the institution but instead through oral tradition.

My informant’s legend is an example of religious folklore. His grandmother told him and his younger family members this story as they approached the age where they would begin to drink alcohol and party with their friends, and in order to dissuade them from doing so, his grandmother told them of the time where she committed that same sin, and the Devil almost came for her for it. Of course the Bible doesn’t say that if a teenager goes and gets drunk at the club, the Devil will appear and take their soul; but pulling on a collective fear in a shared faith will hopefully dissuade my informant from indulging in sin, at least in his grandmother’s eyes. 


Danielson, Larry. “Religious Folklore.” In Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction, edited by Elliott Oring, 45-69. Utah State University Press, 1986.

Shadows, Chasing. “San Antonio’s Dancing Devil of El Camaroncito.” San Antonio Current, 31 Oct. 2011, https://www.sacurrent.com/news/san-antonios-dancing-devil-of-el-camaroncito-2250845.