Jiribilla - ¿Que es eso?




Pronunciation: \ˌhe–re-be-ya\

Function: noun

spin, act of causing to spin; twirling movement, rotation.

A person that shakes and shimmies while they walk. They seem to be grooving to a song in their head.

!Deja de moverte tanto... pareces jiribilla!

Stop moving around so much, you look like a jiribilla.

The jiribilla is a style of rumba. When I first read the name in the book Rumba: Dance and Social in Contemporary Cuba by Yvonne Daniel, I became very interested in this obscure rumba form. However information was very scarce. I remember digging up a very cool video on youtube title Jiribilla with a great dancer performing in an old hall in Cuba with two drummers, but I can never seem to find it again. I wish I could. I remember the dancer jumping over a purple drum with a handkercheif, like a jump rope. The other drums were yellow and purple and the dancer was wearing white pants and took off his shirt.

Anyways, I wanted to learn to play Jiribilla, but I couldn't find the rhythm pattern, either online or in any rhythm books. The book just described the rhythm in terms of speed, saying it was extremely fast and comparing it to BeBop. So maybe it was a dance, but there was only the one video. Also I had only one song classified as "jiribilla": Cantaremos y Bailaremos [Jiribilla] by Raices Habaneras on their album Raices Habaneras, which I would call a guarapachangeo.

This excellent page from La Bijirita had this to say about the jiribilla:

"Other Rumba styles are The Rumba del tiempo d'España, the Reseda, the Jiribilla, the Rumba teatral, among others."

Not that much I know. I asked my instructor, Sandy Perez, about it, but he didn;t have much to say, basically saying it was very fast.

Finally I asked John Santos about Jiribilla, at a lecture series he was giving about rumba. I asked him what the rhythm was. He answered that Jiribilla is not a rhythm, it could be any rhythm. Jiribilla is a style of playing for exhibition, so it is something played and danced very fast as a demonstration performance.

Well that matched the above definition for the word Jiribilla and also explained why I could never find that much information about it. Again it wasn't much, but at least the question was answered for me. Jiribilla is rumba performed in a manner specifically for demonstration and exhibition.


  1. i've also heard from other rumberos that jiribilla is characterized by the dancer pretending to do some sort of action, for example like playing baseball or boxing (elements which are also seen in columbia at times)... but i've heard basically that it's like a fast (columbia?) with that sort of dance... maybe it has merged or influenced columbia dancing in some way...

  2. Según tengo entendido la jiribilla es una rumba fosil. Esto es: una rumba que se bailó en tiempos pasados, pero tan antigua que no se encontraron nunca informantes que pudieran dan noticias sobre su estructura musical ni sobre pasos de danza asociados. Tampoco existe base documental escrita de contemporaneos de esas formas musicales y danzarias que puedieran orientarnos sobre ella. Posiblemente nunca se sabrá nada sobre ella de cierto. Eso si aparece citada de pasoen algunos tratadistas y en alguna canción.

  3. I think the video you are looking for is this one with Barbarito Ramos :-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwZQIrjbYaw

  4. Jiribilla is also often referred to as "Rumba Abierta", you can hear several reepresentations of it played by Los Papines on several 80's and 90's records and CD's.
    It's a "free form" way/style of playing rumba, not adhering to strict "Havana style" or "Matanzas style", yet typically Cuban in form, often played uptempo.