Madeira Folklore Group, Bailinho da Madeira has won the prestigious ‘7 Wonders of Popular Culture’ award with their internationally renowned, popular folklore dance, which is much-loved by tourist’s. Their entry stood out against a total of 504 entries to take the top prize in their category, Music and Dances. Based in the Municipality of Calheta the group was formed in 1938, by the popular Madeiran poet João Gomes de Sousa (1895-1974), who was commonly known as the “Feiticeiro da Calheta.”
Their winning song is set in the autumn of 1938 to mark the occasion of the first ‘harvest party’ in Funchal, where the Feiticeiro da Calheta and Folklore group of Arco da Calheta travel from their hometown to the capital. This was no mean feat, as there were no roads and reaching the capital meant an arduous journey on foot across the harsh Madeiran topography. The solution was to sail to Funchal. On arriving in Funchal, they took part in the Folklore competition where the Feiticeiro da Calheta, played and sang the Bailinho da Madeira for the first time, and of course, the song won.
With its simple and moving lyrics, the song reminds everyone that despite the harsh conditions they faced in everyday life, the people saw the beauty of the island, singing about its ‘endless charm.’ It quickly became and still is one of the most popular songs in Madeira’s musical heritage.
The yearly contest, sponsored by RTP1 has seven categories: - Music and Dances, Legends and Myths, Crafts, Parties and Fairs, Rituals and Customs, Processions and Pilgrimages and Artifacts. The winners were announced on the 5th of September.