In his 1754 book, Corografia de Guipúzcoa
, Manuel de Larramendi passionately defended the Gipuzkoa traditions and dances. The distinguished Jesuit wrote his defence as part of an intense debate that was sparked off in the 18th century regarding the alleged harm that the dances did to the religious moral of men and women. Larramendi contended that the traditional Gipuzkoa dances were not only permissible but even healthy. Nonetheless, in order to avoid problems, he established some conditions in order to guarantee their suitability, such as the men and women using a handkerchief to form the soka-dantza chain which prevented any physical contact between both sexes.
The plural nature of the soka-dantza is reflected in the definition that Larramendi used to described these set of dances: “(…) carricadanzas, escudanzas and other names for the dances in Gipuzkoa
”. In his 1824 book entitled Gipuzkoako dantza gogoangarrien kondaira edo historia
, Juan Ignacio Iztueta described the various specific versions of the basic structure of the soka-dantza
. In this work, he described the dance known as the gizon-dantza
that was led by the mayor and was usually danced in the major local festivities, while offering numerous instructions on how to perform it correctly. Iztueta differentiated numerous soka-dantza
versions according to the profiles of the dancers who performed it. Except for the aforementioned gizon-dantza
(men’s dance), Iztueta refers to the gazte-dantza (young people’s dance), the etxeandre-dantza
, (landlord’s dance), galaien esku-dantza
(the suitors’ esku-dantza), the neskatxen esku-dantza
(the young ladies’ esku-dantza) and the edate
(drinking dance or street danza).
Not all the soka-dantzas
that Iztueta refers to have survived until the present day. The version of this danza that has most survived until the 20th century is what Iztueta calls the gizon-dantza and the honour or protocol dance that is performed in honour of the dignitaries or together with them. In many places, this danza is known as the aurresku
, which seems to be derived from the name given to the first dantzari in the procession, in other words, the "aurreko eskua"
(first hand). Atzeskua probably comes from the same origin. Nonetheless, Iztueta uses aurrendari
to refer to the first and last dantzari in the procession. According to Juan Antonio Urbeltz, the term aurresku
began to become widespread from the second half of the 19th century. According to Urbeltz, using aurresku to refer to this dance reflects the transformations that took place in how it was considered. Under the name of soka-dantza
, the spectator’s attention is focused on the choreographic organisation of the group that performs the danza, in other words, in the dance procession. On the other hand, under the name of esku-dantza
, the focus of attention is on the contact established between men and women, which is precisely the reason why the 18th-century clerics vigorously objected to this danza. In the 19th century, the public’s attention would be focused on the soloist that led the dance, which would mean that aurresku
, the word used to describe him, would evolve over time until it was use to refer to the whole of the danza.
At the end of the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century, the Romantic movement that emerged around the Basque festivities and regional games tried to breathe new life into the soka-dantza
, which was in decline. They then began to organise the honour aurreskus
where the dignitaries and organisers appeared in the square in a dance procession. For several years, San Sebastian city council danced the soka-dantza
during the Euskal Astea festivities.
During the second half of the 20th century, the soka-dantzas were danced during the local festivities in many towns. In Zumarraga, it was danced after the ezpata-dantza;
in Tolosa, after the bordon-dantza
or the feast days to honour the town's patron saints after high mass. The soka-dantza is danced here in Elgoibar on San Bartolomé’s Day.
The oldest information that we have on the Elgoibar soka-dantza is thanks to Pello Arrieta and refers to the soka-dantzas performed in the Sallobente district towards the end of the 19th century. Pello Arrieta gathered data about numerous soka-dantzas
performed between 1877 and 1897. According to news items gathered at the beginning of the 20th century by Resurrección Maria de Azkue, the aurreskus were danced in the square in Elgoibar on New Year’s Eve.
During the Second Republic, Romualdo Andonegi worked as the dance master in Elgoibar and, helped by José Lorenzo Pujana, prepared the soka-dantza
that was dance on San Bartolomé Txiki’s Day in 1932. Over the following years, numerous groups were entrusted with organising the dancing of the soka-dantza
. At the end of the civil war, a dance group was formed and directed by José Mari Agirrebaltzategi, a priest, and they danced the soka-dantza during the San Bartolomé festivities. From 1943, the festivity programmes announced "the traditional aurresku
” for midday on August 24th, San Bartolomé Txiki’s Day. At the end of the 50s, the Baltasar pelota society was entrusted with performing the aurresku
. Apart from the soka-dantza
of the San Bartolomé festivities, the aurresku was also danced during the festivities celebrated in the town’s neighbourhoods: in Sallobente, in San Roke and in San Migel. In the three cases, the soka-dantza
was danced by the local residents.
In 1961, the Ongarri
cultural association take over the task of organizing the soka-dantza
from the Baltasar
association. In 1964, the Ongarri association did not dance the festivity soka-dantza on San Bartolomé’s repetition day, but rather on August 24th, in other words, on San Bartolomé’s Day. After the Ongarri
association, the Elorra
dance group began to organise the soka-dantza
, but danced it for the last time in 1972. When the Elorra group disappeared, Elgoibar was left without an adult dance group, which meant that the San Bartolomé aurresku was in danger of disappearing for ever. In order to ensure that that did not happen and that that soka-dantza
was danced, the Haritz
Basque dance group was formed and has been entrusted to keep the tradition of the San Bartolomé soka-danza
alive. The steps of the danza were learnt from Iñaki Gordejuela, Goizaldi dance master, at the end of the 80s.