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A Mexican Fandango in 1864


Historic Accounts of Life in South Texas

From "Three Months in the Southern States" by Lieut. Col Freemantle - Published 1864
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At 10 p. m. Mr. Oetling conducted us to the grand fandango given in honor of the reported victory over the French.

A Mexican fandango resembles a French ducasse, with the additional excitement of gambling. It commences at 9. 30, and continues till daylight. The scene is lit up by numerous paper lanterns of various colors.

A number of benches are placed so as to form a large quare, in the centre of which the dancing goes on, the men and women gravely smoking all the time. Outside the benches is the promenade bounded by the gambling-tables and drinking-booths. On this occasion there must have been thirty or "forty gambling-tables, some of the smaller ones presided over by old women, and others by small boys.

Monte is the favorite game, and the smallest silver coin can be staked, or a handful of doubloons. Most of these tables were patronized by crowds of all classes intent on gambling, with grave, serious faces under their enormous hats. They never moved a muscle, whether they won or lost.

Although the number of people at these fandangos is very great, yet the whole affair is conducted with an order and regularity not to be equalled in an assembly of a much higher class in Europe. If there ever is a row, it is invariably caused by Texans from Brownsville. These turbulent spirits are at once seized and cooled in the calaboose.

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