This group is a living testament to the tenacious strength and vitality of Caribbean culture. African traditions brought by the slave trade to islands such as St. Kitts and Nevis were re-formulated in their new location, sometimes in contact with European traditions and concepts.
The European influences included mumming plays and performances of Biblical stories like David and Goliath. These cultural traditions, known as Masquerade, flourished in the rare moments of respite, such as the Christmas holiday season. In addition to indigenous developments such as the Bull Play and Cowboys and Indians, almost untouched African traditions continued with the stilt-walking Moko Jumbies. With changing economic opportunities these traditions were brought by migrant workers to the sugar plantations of the Dominican Republic around the beginning of the 20th century. The immigrant community was known to the Dominicans as Cocolos.
Most of this rich heritage no longer survives due to the vicious dictatorship of Trujillo in addition to the many economic and cultural pressures of the modern world that have eroded and often destroyed similar creole traditions throughout the Caribbean. A flavour of these various traditions can be obtained from the related UNESCO documentary.
Los Guloyas is the familiar Dominican name (derived from the David and Goliath play) for the last remaining Cocolo dancing drama tradition, the Wild Indians. In 2005 they were selected by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Our demo film available to view on Youtube was filmed in their home town of San Pedro de Macoris during the Christmas and New Year Celebrations of 2006 – 7. As you will see they are completely at home performing in the street or as part of a procession. They also regularly perform structured, staged presentations ideal for a 20-30 minute slot in a variety of programmes. They have performed throughout the Dominican Republic for many years and since the UNESCO award in 2005 they have performed in Venezuela, the United States and France.