The Congos of Portobelo today are the descendants of the cimarrones—runaway slaves who fought for their freedom during the Spanish colonial period. After escaping into the mountain hills and forest, the cimarrones built their villages (Palenques) from which they waged wars against their former enslavers.
The Congos is beautiful dance full of mystery and legends, in which men and women stage with dances, songs and sonorous drums, the ancestral drama of life, and the fight between the good and evil.
The women dance swaying their hips in an almost erotic manner, using hands and feet to mark the man limits. They wear a long skirt made up of a patchwork of very bright colors fabric, a blouse with a colorful frill necklaces, flower in her hair, and bare feet. The men wear a fringed shirt and pants (made of strips of colored cloth), masks, and bare feet and dance around the women, doing their best to get close and kiss them. The rhythm of drums, singing and applause invites everyone around to participate in the Congo.
Check out the video below of a local news report about the 2013 Festival of Diablos and Congos: