According to Câmara Cascudo, the word xaxado (shashado) is an onomatopoeic word from the 'shashasha' sound, produced by the dancers' footwear as they drag their feet along the ground while executing the steps. He further adds that the name is also a variation of the old hinterland war cry - 'Parraxaxá. Especially, since the lyrics of the songs generally contain satire and aggression.
In the beginning, the dance was always performed entirely by men. As time passed, so the women gained their place in the dance. The dance was also originally instrumentally unaccompanied. The melodies were constructed by the voices of the dancers, generally sung with verses and chorus, and the rhythm was marked only by the sound of the dragging feet and the beating of rifle butts on the ground. However, nowadays, it is common to find the xaxado accompanied by bongos, flutes, triangle, accordion, maracas and a ganzá (another kind of maraca)........
The movements of the dance are presented in a line (once more, a direct influence from the Native Brazilian), there are no circles, and the right foot is pushed forwards and to the sides in three or four quick thrusting movements, while the left foot is dragged behind. This action is carried out quickly and with much agility and, as Câmara Cascudo's describes, it seems to be a dragged out, slippery kind of tap dance. The costume generally worn to perform this dance, is a copy of the clothes worn years ago, by the gang of the above mentioned outlaw, Lampião, complete with imitation rifles and bullet belts.
The famous Northeaster singer Luiz Gonzaga was a great perpetrator of the xaxado, together with numerous other singers and dance troupes of the region. Amongst these groups, the group called the Owl Group particularly stands out. The group was named after its late founder, a man called Owl, whose son - Little Owl - continues the work.