Dancing polladas: the peculiarities behind the colorful cards and rubber tubs full of drinks and ice
The innate creativity of Peruvians has been a light that has shone for decades in Peru and abroad. In times of adversity, when challenges seem overwhelming, Peruvians have demonstrated an uncanny ability to find ingenious solutions that allow them to stay afloat. A prominent example of this resilience is manifested in the many surprising ways they devise to make money.
One of them, which is still valid although with some variations, are the danceable polladas, which bring together hundreds of people in a neighborhood in a district of Metropolitan Lima, which is generally located on the outskirts of the city.
In districts such as Comas, Puente Piedra, San Juan de Lurigancho, Ate, Villa El Salvador, among others, these activities are carried out in order to raise funds to cover expenses, such as buying medicine or raising money for an operation. In that sense, Peruvians show their best and help a friend, neighbor or acquaintance who is going through economic difficulties.
The solidarity of Peruvians was manifested more strongly before 2000, specifically at the end of the 80s. At that time, the polladas were held in the streets and people not only enjoyed fried chicken, boiled potatoes, salad cabbage and huacatay or rocoto creams, but they also danced to the rhythm of the music that was playing at full volume.
Food and music were not the only elements present at the party that had an altruistic purpose; Frozen drinks (sodas and beers) were the center of attention of Peruvians, not only because of the product itself, but also because of the container in which they were found.
The organizers of the dancing polladas did not necessarily have a high budget to throw the party, that is why they decided to use a rubber tub - which was bought or rented - to cool the drinks, from soft drinks to alcoholic beverages. This custom continued after the 2000s, and as expected, the brands of the drinks changed.
Currently, the soap tub continues to be sold and its price ranges between 100 and 150 soles. It is worth mentioning that renting is a cost-saving option, unless you decide to buy it for domestic or industrial purposes.
These products, strictly speaking, are rims that have been inverted and to which a base of the same material has been attached. On platforms such as YouTube, it is possible to find more than one video in which the process to create this fundamental container in the danceable pollodas festivities is explained in detail. However, in recent years, these objects have been replaced by freezers that not only have greater storage capacity, but also greater power to cool drinks. If you choose to use the rubber tubs, it is advisable to place the ice blocks next to the drinks several hours before the guests arrive. This way, the sodas and beers will be very cold when your friends and acquaintances arrive, ensuring you give them a refreshing and pleasant experience.
Peruvians used to find out that someone was organizing a raid when someone pulled out a blue, yellow or red card from their pocket, backpack or bag. Holding the card in his hand, the person revealed that a relative of his was facing delicate health problems, and for this reason, he requested collaboration through the purchase of a chick.
After the citizen gave his speech, solidarity was present: they paid in advance or committed to buying on the day of the event. Solidarity was mixed with humor when people noticed at the top of the card the image of a well-known singer who, obviously, would not be performing at the dance party. Shakira, Dina Páucar, Armonía 10, among other artists of the moment, were captured on cardboard; This made people smile, because they knew they were not going to show up.
The fact that “pollada baile” was written on the card did not guarantee the presence of an orchestra at the event, but what was certain was that loud music would not be lacking in the gated community for several hours.
In dialogue with RPP, Zoila Campos said that when a family member organized a police raid, the streets were closed. “So many people came that they closed the street, it was overwhelming because my house was not that big, but people came and the chickens ran out. The fun was spectacular,” said the woman, clearly excited.
Now, as for the phrases that were included on the cards, it should be noted that they continue to provoke laughter to this day.
“The bar will be stocked with cold sodas and beers,” “it will last until the last consequences” and “it will be enlivened by a powerful stereo sound system” are some of the phrases that have penetrated people's subconscious. These expressions continue to provoke laughter and generate comments among those who witnessed the splendor of these festivities intended to raise funds.
The price of pollodas has undergone changes over time. For example, in 2006, a portion of polloda cost 6 soles. In 2012, this price rose to 12 soles. Currently, costs vary between 15 and 20 soles per serving. It is important to highlight that the organizers have found in the home delivery service an opportunity to increase their sales.
According to a study carried out internationally by the World Bank, polladas are considered one of the most ingenious ways to get money in periods of financial crisis. WB economist, Leora Kappler, highlights the particular appeal of the polladas, which lies in the way in which the people who organize them manage to engage their friends to collaborate with a few coins in exchange for a piece of chicken.
In his research, Kappler asked Peruvians the following question: “Imagine that you have an emergency, you have to pay $1,300 and you have no money, how would you go about getting that amount in the next month?” The Peruvians responded: “Organizing a pollada.”
Dancing cockadas are an integral part of our culture, and the paraphernalia that used to accompany this pro-health activity is practiced less and less. The coronavirus pandemic largely stopped this custom; However, the nostalgia of attending a polloda and seeing the enormous rubber tubs filled with blocks of ice and drinks continues to be a palpable longing for the citizens who used to enjoy these social gatherings.
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