The Language of the Fan

Para la versión en español oprima AQUI

When 19th century puertorrican ladies went dancing, they were always accompanied by their mothers or another adult lady, called "the Chaperona" (Shah-peh-roh-nah), to watch her behavior. They were very zealous so, the young girls invented a way to communicate with the boys without being noticed by them. They used their fans in different ways to convey their messages. I'll present here two versions I have found. It is said that:

If the lady moved her fan very slowly over her chest it meant: "I am free and available, I don't have a boyfriend"
If she moved the fan in fast and short movements over her chest it meant: "I have a partner or boyfriend, so keep going".
If she opened and closed her fan and touched her cheek with it, it told the gentleman: "I like you!"
If she placed the fan on her temple and looked upwards, it said: "I think of you day and night!"
If she saw her boyfriend talking to another girl or suspected he was being unfaithful she touched the tip of her nose with her fan, meaning:: "Something doesn't smell good here"
If she walked from side to side hitting the palm of her hand with the fan, it meant: "Be careful, honey, the "Chaperona" is coming"
If she opened and closed the fan and then pointed with it toward the garden: "Wait for me there, sweetheart. Soon I will be there with you."
And finally, if she covered her mouth with the open fan and looked at him very suggestively she was sending him a kiss, and obviously, the gentleman knew he was the chosen one!


The previous version is taken from a verbal account offered to the author of this pages by singer Migadalia Batiz - source unknown. The next is a version taken from the book "Memorias del Casino de Mayagüez", which is taken from an article in the magazine "La Revista Blanca" tittled "Love conveyed through the fan" :
Carrying it closed and hanging from her left hand (means): I want to have a boyfriend..
Carrying it closed and hanging from her right hand : I'm engaged. .
Fanning very rapidly: I have doubts about you. .
Closing it very fast: Talk with my father. .
Resting it closed over her heart: I love you dearly. .
Resting it closed over her forehead: I am ignoring you. .
Putting away the fan closed: I'm not going out today. .
Taking it out of her purse: I'll be out today. .
Resting it open over her lips: Don't doubt about me. .
Resting it open over her heart: I want to get married. .
Giving the fan to the boyfriend: My heart belongs only to you. .
Taking the fan from her boyfriend: I don't want anything else from you. .
Covering part of her face with the open fan: We have finished. .
Dropping down the fan: I'm suffering, but I love you. .
Hitting her left hand with the fan: I like you. .
Looking outside: I'm considering if it is good for me. .
Hitting her right hand with the fan: I hate you. .
Hitting her dress with the fan: I'm jealous. .
Resting it closed on her left cheek: I'm all yours. .
Resting it closed on her right cheek: Be careful, my family is watching. .
Doing as if she is counting the fan's blades: I want to talk with you. .
Playing with the fan: I'm in a hurry. .
Having it open, hanging upside down: Without your love, I prefer to die. .

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