San Miguel de Allende has an extensive and very colorful procession the weekend closest to September 29, the town's celebration of their patron Saint Michael. Some of the most beautifully outfitted participants in the parade are the Conchero Dancers. The Conchero Dancers claim to be Chichimechas related to the Otomi culture. The town's original name was San Miguel de Las Chichimecas. Over four hundred and fifty years ago, Friar Juan from Spain tried to establish his missionary here and convert the Chichimeca Indians to Christianity.This sequined dress was gorgeous. I am sure it cost a pretty peso or two.
Their name, Conchero, comes from the Spanish word for shell, concha. Shell like forms are used in two different ways; the traditional musical instrument is made with the shell-like covering of the armadillo and the other as ankle bracelets that make a clicking/clacking noise when dancing.
Each Conchero group has anywhere from 50 to 100 members called a mesa, or table, referring to the altar around which it is organized. Each mesa is named after a saint. They honor the Holy Cross and the Cardinal Points (the four winds).
The dancers follow a certain pattern and dance step. It is the devil that accompanies the group that dances as he pleases. He will clear the way for the dancers, entertain the spectators and keep them from crowding the dancers.