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How "La Macarena" song has its origins in flamenco tradition and Spanish Christianity

"La Macarena" is one of the most popular songs in the world and its origins are too attached to the Spanish dance tradition and even to Virgin Macarena.

There is a handful of world-known songs and certainly one of them is “La Macarena”. This Spanish song was a total hit in the mid-’90s and today it was revived through Bad Bunny’s voice. 

However, the story of this song and its very popular dance is close to Spanish traditions of flamenco and Christianity. Here’s the story of how “La Macarena” was born and why today is still a hit worldwide. 

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How “La Macarena” was born?

The popular song saw its birth at a very exclusive party in Caracas, Venezuela. During their Latin America tour in 1991, Antonio Romero Monge and Rafael Ruiz Perdigones, the Los del Río members, were invited to a very exclusive party hosted by Gustavo Cisneros, one of Venezuela’s most important businessmen. 

For the occasion, Cisneros hired Diana Patricia Cubillán Herrera, a young local flamenco teacher.  

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According to Diana Patricia, while Rafael played the guitar, Antonio sang and she danced sevillanas, rumbas, and fandangos, all Spanish dance styles. 

When both members of Los del Río saw Diana Patricia’s skill for dancing, Antonio Romero recited the now famous lyrics: “dale alegría a tu cuerpo Magdalena, que tu cuerpo es para darle alegría y cosa Buena”.

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(Translation: "Give your body some joy, Magdalene, 'cause your body is for giving joy and good things to")

That’s how “La Macarena” was born, but as you might have noticed it had a different name. 

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Why it change from Magdalena to Macarena?

Although is not clear why Magdalena was the first name that came into Antonio’s mind while watching Diana Patricia’s moves, it certainly was not going to stick around. 

The name changed from Magdalena to Macarena because of a vision Antonio had in which Virgin Macarena from Spain asked him to make hers the most popular name in the world. 

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It became a worldwide hit

The original flamenco version of “La Macarena” was included in the album A mi me gusta and by 1995 it was a summer hit in all Spain.  

However, the record company wanted a version more fitted for dancing and the disco, so it asked a third party for some arrangements to add a female voice singing in English and a remix was born.  

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The rest is history. “La Macarena” became the most popular song of the mid-’90s. It sounded during the 1996 halftime show of the Super Bowl, it was used by Bill Clinton’s campaign and got to be at #1 in Billboard lists for 14 weeks, a record that only Mariah Carey had accomplished. 

Nowadays, the song is #7 in Billboard’s Hot 100 list of all times and #1 in Latin Songs list. However, Los del Río hasn’t accomplished another hit like it. 

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Currently, there is a record of more than 4,700 different versions of “La Macarena”, being the most recent one in Bad Bunny’s voice. 

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