Xaxado, the outback dance

Xaxado is a popular dance from the sertão (outback) of the state of Pernambuco, in the Northeast. It is frequently associated to Lampião, the mythical outlaw that scared the region in the beginning of last century, that used to dance with his men after their victories. Even today the dancers wear rifles and leather hats similar to the bandit’s and his cangaceiros in their presentations. The name xaxado is attributed to the noise made by the cangaceiros’ sandals as they strike the sand.

Live statue of a cangaceiro photographed in São Paulo by Vana Gwen/ Flickr
Live statue of a cangaceiro photographed in São Paulo by Vana Gwen/ Flickr

Originally, it was danced only by men, organized in a line. The leader would sing the song and the other participants would answer back in chorus, insulting their enemies or praising their own bravery. They frequently mark the rhythm hitting the floor with their rifles.

Xaxado was discovered by the mass media thanks to composer Luiz Gonzaga, that you can see performing it in this film.

And here is Grupo de Xaxado Os Cabras de Lampião, from Serra Talhada, Pernambuco. Sorry, the quality of this video is not ideal.