The corridinho, the baile de roda and the baile mandado are danced in pairs and are directed by the mandador. The origin of these dances, which used to be popular in nature and today are danced by ethnographic and folk music groups, can be traced back to the court dances, and were then recreated and adapted for popular weekend dances.
The accordion, a fundamental instrument for the Algarve’s traditional dances, first appeared in the region towards the end of the 19th century, and soon became popular, bringing added interest to local repertoires. Players reinvented and combined melodies and rhythms of polkas and mazurkas to those of the old bailes de roda, giving rise to the rhythmic and harmonic richness of the Algarve’s folk music groups, whose dances incorporate influences from the various peoples whom they encountered over the years.
Christmas in the Algarve is a time of religious and community tradition, with wonderful songs in tribute to the young saviour, especially in the uplands of the Serra do Caldeirão.
During the Christmas and New Year festive season, carol singers called charolas go from door to door singing seasonal songs and playing popular instruments that illustrate the people’s cheerfulness and ability to improvise. Residents normally respond with applause and then offer the singers delicacies and a glass of good medronho brandy. However, if they don’t, the singers get their revenge by singing teasing songs, called chacotas. Spontaneous carol-singing groups have now virtually disappeared but there are ethnographic groups who try to keep this typical eastern-Algarve tradition alive and bring it back into the public eye.
Other traditional songs, which have all but disappeared are working songs such as the leva-leva, which fishermen used to sing to mark the rhythm of drawing in the nets, and the harvest songs, sung in the countryside. The same is true of lullabies and romantic songs, which could either be slow or lively, like parades. Nowadays, the tradition lives on in the voices and fingers of the traditional singing groups, who preserve this inestimable wealth and present it to the public.