The Texan urban legend of the girl who dances with the devil reaches wide over the spaces of southern Texas for nearly 40 years. It is a story that plays into the familiar warning to beware of strangers, yet beyond the tale reflects the people of Southern Texas values and lessons of caution to young people.
The story is said to have occurred at El Camaroncito Night Club on Old Highway 90. The very night a handsome man entered the club. The man is said to have been exceptionally handsome, was elegantly dressed, and to have been a fabulous dancer. That night he asked a girl to in a white dress to dance and danced with her as the night went on. However, things took a horrific turn when the girl happened to glance down at his feet. The woman screamed out in terror at the sight of his feet, broke free of the man’s grip, and began franticly pointing downward. There the patrons saw the handsome man standing with the hideous feet of a goat’s hooves. The man amidst the shouting, he quickly dashed towards the men’s restroom. The patrons chased after him and found that he had vanished. In his wake, he left a cloud of smoke and the permeated smell of sulfur.
As the origins can claim to be from San Antonio or the Rio Grande, and the details change like a game of telephone, the stories prominence within the southern regions reflects the fears of obedience, and religion. The tale reveals old San Antonio, on an old highway, in a now shut down club. The tale shows a glimpse of the values held in the past and ones that vaguely appear now. “The story feels like a time capsule to the Regan era America, it reminds me of the satanic panic,” says Gloria Salinas, a long-ago club attender. “If you went to the club, every conversation there would always end up back to the story. So, you were always warned to be worried about the devil.”
More than anything behind the superstitious tale, is that it is a story of lessons. It is a story that can be molded to warn teens not to sneak out without permission. Or it can be framed to warn the young to be wary of others in the night.
The story is an intimate tie to the region and its people. By getting to know this story or hear it passed from generation to generation is a chance in getting to know the history of the region. Sharing the story presents and understanding into the Mexican American family warnings, but as well as a story that gets to transcend time and place.