The devil dances have their origin in European masques. Especially after the plague, the macabre and the devil were themes for many celebrations. In the case of the devil dances in Panama, they all serve a religious purpose: the evangelization of the other. So they came to be a vivid image of the battle between good and evil that promoted conversion. Most of the devil dances are usually practiced for the religious feast of Corpus Christi, that celebrates the presence of Jesus in the host. These practices are colonial, but there are no dates that we can specify as to when or where they started. Most probably very early in the 16th century.
The Diablicos Sucios (THE PICTURE BELOW) are the ones from Los Santos and Chitre. They wear red and black stripped suits that originally were painted with charcoal and “achiote” over cotton “manta sucia” and carried an animal bladder that usually stank; when they danced and sweated the colors ran off making a dirty look-hence the name “sucios”. The cone that they use to hold the mask is beautifully decorated with red guacamaya feathers. They also use castanets and a stick. There is no narrative sequence in this dance.