The Snake Dance was originally performed during the Hopi Indians during tribal ceremonies. For the Hopi the dance was performed to implore the gods to send rain. This dance has also been a tradition at Mexican weddings for many years. When danced at a Mexican wedding, the bride stands on a chair, the groom holds her veil in an arch behind the chair and the female wedding guest dance, in a line, under the veil. Today, this dance is popular at sporting events, high school dances, weddings and parties. It can be performed to a variety of music and is usually done to upbeat music with a medium tempo.
The term, "snake dance" can refer to the actual dance or to a parade of people who snake through a town. The parade of people is usually informal and is a sort of warm-up for a pep rally before a high school or college sporting event. It is called a snake dance, because the participants, twist and turn like a snake as they make their way through a town or city, heading for a pep rally, bonfire or other activity leading up to a sporting event.
As a dance, the Snake Dance is performed in a single-file line, with each dancer facing the back of the dancer in front of them. Dancers hold onto the shoulders or waist of the dancer in front of them. The first dancer in the line is the head of the snake. This dancer leads the rest of dancers around the dance floor in a series of twists and turns resembling the movements of a snake as it slithers through grass or water. The steps used in this dance are very simple and are actually a walking step taken in time to the music. The Snake Dance is popular at many events because it is easy to learn and can be done by children and adults. It is often done at wedding receptions with the bride leading the line of dancers or being the head of the snake. It is popular at high school dances, because a partner is not needed in order to participate in the Snake Dance.