Before I get to the main event of the evening, I must say something about the mall. Only a couple of department stores, a little ice cream and cookie shop, and the multi-screen movie theater are open as yet, but this mall is HUGE, and will have over 300 stores when it’s fully operational.
The theater is very modern, and the concession area is impressive. There’s also a little coffee shop inside the theatre, off to one side. I bought a large popcorn (they have both buttered popcorn AND caramel corn available) before watching the dancers.
The popcorn was much the same as in theaters in the US, but the price was very different. The largest size was $3.35 – about half the price of my local theater in the US. I think the caramel corn was the same price. This was my first time inside the mall, but someone who had seen a movie there posted on Facebook that the ticket price was $3-$4, and the seats were very comfortable. I’ll be going back to see a movie soon, for sure!
As we arrived and before the folk dancers began, there were lots of little kids on the stage, and they had a dance-off between the boys and the girls. They were adorable, and some of them were natural-born entertainers. It would be interesting to see what they are like when they’re older!
The folk dance exhibition (baile folklórico) included groups not only from Panama, but also from Columbia, Peru and Cuba. Different provinces in Panama have somewhat different styles of folk dance and costumes. When we went to Las Tablas for the pollera festival, we saw mostly the traditional white embroidered dresses with the full skirts. There were at least two groups from Panama at this event. The first group’s costumes were similar to the polleras, but the ladies wore fitted white vests and full red skirts. The men were dressed pretty much the same as the ones in Las Tablas.
The second Panamanian dance group was much different from anything I had seen before – I think they were from Bocas del Toro, though I’m not positive. Their costumes and dance style had a definite Afro-Caribbean flavor, and reminded me of Carnival (celebrated on the four days before Ash Wednesday), especially the last part of the video below, where the devil attempts to disrupt the proceedings, but is vanquished by the Carnival King and Queen, who defeat him by brandishing a cross.
This was a delightful evening of entertainment, and the local culture is just one more reason I enjoy Panama so much!