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Mastering the Top

A true Quiteño can master the top

Quito is a city full of traditions. I was born and raised in Quito. Nevertheless, being born in Quito does not necessarily mean you are a true Quiteño or “plazuela”. Plazuela literally means small square in English, but in Quito, it refers to someone with street smarts.

In order to be street savy in Quito you must be good at street soccer, marbles, soapbox car derbies and a top master. The top was a synonym of fun and talent for kids. I recall I was never too good at spinning the top when I was a youngster. Furthermore, I always felt a bit overzealous about this and decided to change that in my teen years.

Quito Traditions

I bought a plastic top, some string and set about mastering the top. My father tried to explain how to make the top spin and dance on the ground. Nevertheless, explaining how to spin the top is like trying to explain how to tie a tie to someone. It seems so obvious and simple to the teacher and so out of reach for the student.

Countless tries later I was about to give up. But, I kept on practicing on my own in my garage so no one would see how bad I was at it. After weeks of practice, I was able to get the top to dance on call. I can’t really explain what an awesome feeling that is.

La Maravilla – a complicated trick

I kept on practicing and mastering the top. The most complicated trick on the top IMHO is “La Maravilla” or Marvel in English. You have to throw the top and catch it in your hand before it hits the ground. The top must spin on your hand. This trick is very intricate and if you can pull it off you can call yourself a true top master and Plazuela.

Take a look at the video of me pulling off “La Maravilla”. Or click to the YouTube video here.

La Maravilla

Connoisseur Tip:

If you would like to learn more about Quito traditions, where to buy a top and how to spin the top. Consider coming along on our HIPstoric Quito Day Tour which will take you to a top store where you can learn how to spin a top.