Tag Archives: The Devil

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. 

Demon Baby of Hull House


“Do you know about the demon baby of Hull House? Hull House was a settlement home developed by Jane Adams, the godmother of social work. And in 1902 a baby was born outside of Chicago, outside of wedlock, where it was born with horns and a tail, and cloven feet. Unable to keep the baby, they brought it to Hull House where it could be cared for and most importantly prayed for…but nothing could fix it. They kept it away as it started to become a draw. And so they kept that baby up in the attic where it wouldn’t bother anyone or be bothered by them. And it’s said that still today, you can see that baby up in the window…”

Background Info: The storyteller lives in Chicago and it is a story that buddies of the storyteller had been telling while living in the city.

Context: I was with my family and I was telling them that I had this project coming up and told them some of the stories people had told me for it. That spurred a conversation where everyone started sharing their pieces of folklore and this was one of them.

Thoughts: I was immediately captured by the title of this story. When the storyteller asked me if I had heard of a demon baby I was intrigued. The storyteller’s performance was captivating because the storyteller used a tone of voice that many use when telling creepy stories. I read up on the story after it was told and I discovered that some people refer to the baby as a “devil baby” and there are many different versions including an Italian version and a Jewish version which can be found here:

Addams, Jane. “The Devil-Baby at Hull House.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Oct. 1916, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1916/10/the-devil-baby-at-hull-house/305428/.


A Panamanian Exorcism

“One day, my friend was very pale and talking in strange voices/tones. She was claiming that she was not herself and not in control of her body. And so, her friends took her to the hospital and they couldn’t find anything wrong. Then, one of the girls thought that getting a curandero was going to help her. He waived some plants over her and said some prayers. The demons quickly left, and she was fine after that. She doesn’t remember anything from when she was being possessed.”

In Panama, exorcisms are still quite common, as many still believe that they may be possessed by demons or The Devil himself. When someone appears to be possessed, a curandero (translates to healer) is hired to force the invaders out of the victim’s body. Usually, they tend to wave various plants and spices over the possessed in order to free them.

The informant, Jonathan Castro, is a 21-year-old student from Panama. Because until recently, he had spent his entrie life in Panama, he believes that he is well informed in Panamanian folklore. His friend was the one who introduced him to the practice of exorcisms after revealing her personal story to him. Jonathan does not believe that what she claimed is true, but he does know that she becomes genuinely uncomfortable when talking about the subject, as it brings back traumatic memories for her. To him, the whole event is just a remnant of the older and more religious Panamanian beliefs.

The story told by Jonathan is as great look into the folklore that has survived from Panama’s past. While Jonathan and the doctors at the hospital had a hard time believeing her story, Jonathan’s friend was convinced that an evil entity had entered her body and was eventually forced to leave. Evidently, even though certain beliefs may seem outdated, their lack of prevalence does not mean that they are completely gone.