- “Vibora de la Mar”- Mexican Wedding Dance
Context: CL is a Mexican American student at USC. Her parents are from Michoacan, Mexico and her family currently resides near Bakersfield, California.
CL: Okay so this is a game played at a wedding. Okay there’s two different ones: The bride gets on a chair… I’m trying to remember if it’s the bride and the groom both get on a chair, and then they carry the bride’s veil, the groom carries the bride’s veil so that people grab each other’s hands and then they go around in circles. First, it’s the women that are at the party, and then after they’re done, it’s the men that go. I think they’re objective is to try to knock down the bride and the groom…
HV: That’s so silly goofy *laughs*. To try to knock down who?
CL: The bride and the groom.
HV: Oh they’re praying on their downfall?
CL: Yeah, pretty much.
HV: Is it all the single people?
CL: Yeah maybe!
HV: Why do you think they’re trying to knock down the bride and the groom? Do you think there’s a significance behind that?
CL: *quietly* let me look it up…
HV: That’s not fair! What do YOU think it means?
CL: I think it’s just… it could be one of two things. It could be like “oh we’re celebrating the union of you guys”. Maybe the chairs symbolize… it’s the beginning of a new era, you guys are so happy right now but eventually, it’s just gonna be like any common thing, being married, and if you fall, it’s like you’re joining us, welcome back to the real world.
HV: Is there music?
CL: Oh yeah! There’s a song! The song is called “La vibora de la mar”?
HV: Screaming, it has the same name?
CL: uh, yeah.
HV: How does it go? Sing it for us.
CL: “A la vibora, vibora, de la mar, de la mar, por aquí pueden pasar, los de adelante corren mucho, los de atras se quedaran”.
(To the snake, snake, of the sea, of the sea, you can pass through here, the ones in the front run a lot, the ones in the back stay behind).
HV: What is the translation of “vibora de la mar”?
CL: Ooooo, snake of the sea? I think it’s “vibora” because the people are holding hands and they’re going in a snake motion. I’ve mainly seen it with adults because it can get kind of aggressive so I don’t think that they want children to get trampled. I think it’s aggressive because they’re trying to knock down the bride and groom. If the men were to go first, since they tend to be a little more aggressive, then the women wouldn’t be able to go. Cause then what if the groom falls or the bride falls or someone gets hurt.
My Interpretation: The significance of this tradition to me seems like it’s a way of testing the newlyweds’ bond. By physically trying to knock down the couple, who are now connected, literally through the bride’s veil, and figuratively through marriage, the community is giving them their first test of endurance in this new chapter of the life cycle. It’s also interesting to me how segregated the tradition is by gender because it demonstrates how separate men and women are in the culture and how their roles in marriage will also be separate and distinct.