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The Dande Festival is Aruba’s biggest traditional musical event.
More than 50 singers accompanied by typical musical groups present their original compositions and lyrics as well as the traditional Dande song.
These Dande groups are groups of travelling musicians blessing local families for the New Year with goodwill and prosperity. Traditional Aruban Instruments such as the 'tambu', 'wiri' and 'raspa' are used to produce a festive rhythm with a contagious chorus of Dande Songs. A hat is passed around while the singer has to showcase his improvisation skills when singing unique blessings to each family member.
The history of Dande
The word Dande may originate from a corruption of a Spanish word meaning to travel from one place to another. The ritual of musicians playing the tambu and visiting Aruban families after the midnight fireworks started around 1880 when King Willem II liberated the house slaves. These slaves visited Aruban homes, playing the tambu, to wish their community members a prosperous new year. This local tradition is iconic to Aruba, as no other island in the region with the Dande tradition.