In the historic centre of Chile’s capital city, memories of the Pinochet era as well as the gruesome history of the Conquistadors are close to the surface, apparent in the faces of the people, the political graffiti on the walls and the prevalence of armed police. An impromptu street performance of La Cueca, the national dance, lightens the atmosphere. Two dancers imitate the courtship display of a rooster and a hen: the male is arrogant, flamboyant and predatory; the female demure and evasive but coquettish. Then a young boy with a winning smile, responding to entreaties from the crowd, replaces the older male and dances with the female. He is not so much rooster to her hen as baby chick to her mother hen. His performance is full of pint-sized machismo.