603. Curaçao’s ‘Forbidden’ New Year’s Tradition

1000 Awesome Things About Curaçao

Prolific Dutch writer Jan Brokken once described this forbidden new year’s tradition in all its culturally sensitive glory: “though man and woman don’t touch each other during tambú dance, they move more provocatively than a Dutch couple making love.” This form of recreation and expression was controversial enough to be banned by the authorities for the first part of the 20th Century. Though the ban was relaxed in 1954, tambú parties are still subject to permits to this day.

“Our tambú happens at the end of the year, every year. Its goal is purification — cleansing — catharsis. People used to play tambú to chase away fuku (bad luck)… because sometimes bad things happen during the year… and then people play tambú, dance tambú, to chase away fuku. [Tambú is widely considered ‘Curaçao Blues’] Unfortunately, this ritualistic aspect of tambú is often misunderstood or overlooked.” – Indira Boelbaai, Dancer and Cultural Worker

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