Friday, July 20, 2012

Authentic Flamenco in Spain, anyone?

Fiery. Passionate. That's Flamenco for you. This dance marked by sharp, staccato movements with clapping and stomping, fierce guitar music, and soulful vocals has already become Spain's cultural trademark. By this, you haven't really been to Spain if you haven't seen a Flamenco performance.

I visited Granada, Spain in Summer of 2010, and while there, I knew I was at the perfect place to see authentic Flamenco.

Our walkingt our guide said the dance originated in Granada -- right there at one of those cobbled streets of the city. I couldn't confirm where it exactly started but what history books said should suffice: it started in Andalusia -- the same Southern Spanish region where Granada is.

Being the budget adventurer that I am, I am always on the lookout for cheapest deals and I've chanced on what appears to be the cheapest place to drink and watch an authentic Flamenco performance. It's at Le Chien Andalou (The Andalusian Dog), located at 7 Carrera del Darro (Paseo de los Tristes) just off Plaza Nueva.

A view of Plaza Nueva. Photo taken on June 2010.

Another shot of Plaza Nueva. Photo taken on June 2010.

If I am not mistaken, this is Carrera del Darro. Photo taken on June 2010.

I was told the best Flamenco performances in Granada are somewhere in Sacramonte or in Albaycin, where they charge somewhere between 10-15 euros. They may be beautiful but the biggest draw for me for Le Chien Andalou is the 5-euro cover charge, which already includes a drink and free tapas of hash browns with chorizo.

The one-hour-or-so performance took place in what look like a wine cellar.

It was so intimate as there was only about 50 or 60 of us that night.

Watch an authentic Flamenco performance below:


Vocals: El Centenillo
Guitar: Luis de Melchor
Dance: Isa "La Jazmin"

Can't see the video? Here's the Youtube link.

Moving on to Córdoba, another city in Andalusia in the Southern part of Spain, I've realized that Flamenco is more than just the dancing, clapping and stomping.

It's also the singing and the guitar playing, that even without the dancing, can still be called a Flamenco performance.

The singing part, which is very similar to the singing in the Arab world (read: Andalusia used to be a colony of the Moors), is very passionate.

The guitar playing or toque has become a signature of Spanish and Hispanic music, which involves a lot of strumming patterns.

This is certainly one of the highlights of my visit to Europe by far!

And back home in the Philippines, I've just realized that our national dances, which were heavily influenced by the 300-year Spanish occupation, have tinges of Flamenco.

Tip sheet:

* As mentioned, watching a performance here costs only 5 euros, inclusive of a drink (could be Sangria or soda) with hash browns and chorizo (that's the best part of being in Granada: tapas are for free when you buy a drink!)

* An overnight, 10-hour train ride to Granada from Barcelona costs 64 euros. A three-hour bus ride to Córdoba from Granada costs about 15 euros, while bus that would take you from Córdoba to Madrid also costs 15 euros. Trains from one region to another normally cost higher.