Dance of the Little Devils


Costa Rica is a land that owns various ethnicities and traditions. Valuing their traditions is one trait of Costa Ricans, which can never fade away. These people stick to their roots and pay homage to every incident of their past that has brought character and history to their land. “Dance of the Little Devils” is one festival that is most unique in terms of history and they style in which it is now celebrated.

It originated from a tribe in Boruca of Puntarenas, a province of Costa Rica. This clan of the devils celebrates a three day festival called Danza de los Diablitos or the ‘Dance of the Little Devils’ every year in Reserva Indigena Boruca. It begins on 31st December and goes on till 2nd January annually. The festival is an actually a reenactment of an episode of clash and it brings to life the battle between the Spaniards and their native bloods in the mode of a dance and role play that leaves its spectators spell bound.

It all begins on December 30th as the night falls and the sound of church bells announce its beginning. The musicians, drummers and flautists flare up the music setting the mood of the drama and the performance of the dancers inaugurates the three day show.


The combat is shown to take place between two sides. Firstly, the Borucan ancestors those dressed up wildly as the devils or Diablitos. And the invading Spaniards represented as a bull by people covered by intricate masks that outgrow their faces and cover half of their bodies. The act starts as the devils dance off as to affront the bulls. Eventually the side of the bulls gets stronger and they launch themselves at the devils leaving them defeated and dull. The gripping recital continues as huge amount of viewers gather at the spot to witness the amazing act.

The show climaxes to a great end as the devils rise from the dead and win the battle by flinging the bull into the mouth of fire. This brings about huge merriment among the devils and the audience that marks the key reason of the festivity.

While the men in act the past the women of the tribe make themselves busy to prepare meals for the audience, rice tamales being the favorite. Also, the viewers are kept gripped and entertained by flowing supplies of their famous corn beer, Chicha.

This festival not only brings to life the most unusual cultural share of Costa Rica but also provides an opportunity for their work of handicrafts and mask making art to gain light. In the past the masks were less complex and were made from balsa wood simple and plain. Now as the festival has gained popularity, the tradition of crafts and mask making has been passed on to generations and modernized with the use of various designs, techniques, colors and use of materials like banana shoots. Tourists always make sure to buy these masks as souvenirs when they come to attend this event.


This festival has successfully become the highlight of the stay for thousands of tourists at Costa Rica in this time of the year. It revives the past of Borucas greatly. As Fernández states, “The mask, with or without color, is an indispensable element, because without the masks there would be no devils, and without devils there would be no Boruca.”


Address: Rey Curre, a town near Boruca. Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Rey Curre is 20kms south of Buenos Aires and 90kms south from San Isidro de General on the Inter American Highway.