Punta is the most well-known and most popular of all the Garifuna music beats. It is a fast, high energy style that often features at parties. However, it should not be confused with punta rock.
Traditional punta involves only the traditional drums, maracas and other traditional percussion. Punta rock, its more modern counterpart, involves electronic keyboard, guitar and more.
Likewise, punta dancing is different from punta rock dancing. The traditional version involves side-to-side shaking of the hips (not rotation), and involves one man and one women dancing with each other, but not touching. The two dancers try to outdo each other with their dancing technique. While the shaking of the hips does appear sexual, there is no touching in traditional dancing. Those of you who have seen punta rock dancing know that is not true in that case!
These songs are by their nature very fast to match the beat. They are most often traditionally composed by women, although many of the songs comment on men and relationships. Topics can be about personal affairs, unacceptable behaviours, hurricanes, and more.
This free translation of one song gives an example of the types of topics that are often featured in this genre:
“It is hard to raise a fatherless child.
I see it in myself, my sister.
I should go and look for a homeland with you all.
My children’s father says he went and got married because I drove him to it.
No matter if you do good to a man, if he isn’t yours, you have a sad time with him.”
Another well-known traditional song and dance is “Mata Muerte” – about a woman who finds a body on the beach. Despite the topic the dance is quite comical, with a woman dancing over apparently lifeless body and trying to resuscitate it by fanning her skirts over the body, prodding it with a stick and more. Below is a (dark and grainy) video of this dance being performed.
Musicians such as Andy Palacio delved into both traditional and modern Punta. Other popular Punta Rock musicians include Aziatic and Supa G.