The Jarabe Tapatío, known in English as the Mexican hat Dance, is the title of the musical piece and the dance that accompanies it, which is accorded the title of the "national dance of Mexico". In the Spanish language, jarabe is a sort of dance, and the adjective tapatío indicates something from Guadalajara, Jalisco.
The musical piece, a medley of Mexican folk music, was composed in the 19th century by a professor of music in Guadalajara, Jesús González Rubio.
The Jarabe Tapatío dance in its standardized form was first choreographed by the Mexican Felipa Lopez, in the early twentieth century to celebrate a government-sponsored fiesta that commemorated the successful end of the Mexican Revolution.
The dance tells the story of love and courtship. It can be performed either by a couple or a group of couples. A charro, dressed in the traditional "charro suit", a three-piece suit composed of a vest, jacket, and pants bearing silver buttons down the seam), makes initial courtship gestures to la china (wearing the traditional China Poblana outfit). They flirt throughout the beginning of the dance, during which time the man attempts to woo the woman with his zapateado (stamping and tapping) and his machismo. Just as he has impressed the woman, he becomes "drunk" with glory, and is shooed away as a "borracho" (an inebriate), but ultimately, he succeeds in "conquering" the china, throwing his hat to the ground and kicking his leg over his partner's head as she bends down to pick it up. The two do a triumphant march to a military tune called a diana, and the dance ends with a romantic turn or the couple hiding their faces behind the man's sombrero in a feigned kiss.
The dance was further popularized by Anna Pavlova who created a staged version in pointe shoes, and was showered with hats by her adoring Mexican audiences. In 1924, Secretary of Education José Vasconcelos proclaimed the jarabe tapatio to be Mexico’s national dance and decreed that it would be taught throughout the Mexican public school system as a symbol of Mexican identity, designed to supersede any local dance traditions and bind together the ethnically diverse population.
Some accounts refer to the female performer's dance on the actual brim of the hat. The dance caused some scandal in the Catholic Church at the time, which viewed it as lascivious.