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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Passion for the Spanish stereotype - Pasodoble music (1)

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Whether you’re a big fan of TV dance shows or not, we can’t deny the entertaining power of glamorous ballroom dancing on stage and competitions. Among the rich repertoire, one of the most bold and impressive ballroom styles would be Pasodoble or Paso Doble with the theme of Spain - but it’s not as simple as it seems.

Is Pasodoble really Spanish?

Pasodoble or Paso Doble literally means two-steps or double-step, typically seen in military marching in binary rhythm. In Spain, the music is famously associated with bullfighting. However, some musicologists are still disputing if the music and dance originated in Spain or France where they also have a history of bullfights. Though we can’t decide what is true, there are Pasodoble songs in both French and Spanish, and even in other languages. In any case, the music certainly has an air of stereotypical Spain.

As a well-known fact, Spain and its culture have been a beloved motif in French music, including classics, operas and chansons françaises. One of the best known Pasodoble songs in French language would be ‘Sombreros et Mantilles’ (Sombreros y Mantillas / Hats and Shawls) sung by Rina Ketty in 1938. With many yearning references to Spain in its lyrics, we can see how this Spanish-themed chanson française still lives in the heart of French people in this video, where an accordion artist Stéphanie Rodriguez and her band entertained the dancing audience in France:

Sombreros et Mantilles - Stéphanie Rodriguez & Band

Y Viva España

There are of course many famous Pasodoble songs in Spanish too, and one of the most popular tunes would be ‘Y Viva España’, sometimes called ‘Que Viva España’, interpreted by the nation’s favourite singer Manolo Escobar in 1973. The song still grabs many Spaniards’ heart especially in a patriotic gathering such as a football-related event:

‘Y Viva España’ by Manolo Escobar (The Football World Cup 2010)

It’s therefore surprisingly interesting that the song wasn’t originally Spanish. It was made in Belgium in 1971 and sung in Flemish (Belgium Dutch), the language curiously called ‘flamenco’ in Spanish:

‘Eviva Espana’ by Samantha

The French version in 1972 was also popular, and I personally love the warmness:

‘E Viva España’ by Georgette Plana

Although the proud Spanish version actually came afterwards, the song has gained massive popularity to the level that it has become close to a national anthem, enticing patriotic feelings among many Spaniards. At Spanish parties and fiestas, this number can be played to confirm the atmosphere with aire español. Even in other adopted languages such as German, Arabic, English etc., the song still maintains the Spanish theme, because that’s what Pasodoble is all about.

Regardless of its disputed origin, musical creators and developments, one thing is certain about Pasodoble - we love Spain, and who doesn't? We yearn for our imaginary Spain through Pasodoble.

Pasodoble (English)

Y Viva España (Spanish)


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