Erasmus Experiences: seeing a Flamenco performance in Granada (2012)

In my previous post on my Granada trip, I spoke about how this place marked me in two different ways – Granada for me was my first real experience with Arab architecture and culture without being in an Arabic country and it was the first time I was in the audience to enjoy an authentic Flamenco performance. Granada’s main attraction is the Alhambra but the city is also rich in intimate flamenco clubs, where we can experience up close an original flamenco performance. Like I did. And I was transfixed. the place we were taken to was called La Buleria.

La Buleria is a Flamenco bar built in the hillside, with a very unique atmosphere to it, being famous for its cave. The decoration couldn’t be more traditional. Copper pans and jars, black and white, sepia photographs of Flamenco personalities, the blue ceramics, the polka-dotted red curtains and table cloths. Castanets of all shapes hanging everywhere. Yes, this was the place to watch some real Flamenco magic.

While Flamenco is linked to Spain, and more so with the Andalusian Roma (gipsies), it seems like the roots come from another continent, Roma migration from Rajasthan, in northwest India to Spain between the 9th and the 14th century. I found this fascinating, as much as learning that initially, it was the singing (el cante) and not the music of the dancers that were central to Flamenco. It was between 1780 and 1845, that the dancers and the musicians started to play a bigger role in Flamenco and the singers saw their role as secondary. Indeed, when I think about Flamenco, I think about the dancers, the traditional dress, the castanets, the shoe tapping. Intellectuals did not like this, defending the pure form of Flamenco was being killed off. In 1922, the first Flamenco competition was created to prevent the debasement of an authentic form of folk art and expression. Since then, Flamenco has reached the sophisticated recognition it indeed deserves.

Sit by the wall and prepare yourself for a show of real flamenco guitar playing, singing and dance. Unfortunately, the only video I do have is of really poor quality, so we will have to be content with the photographs of that night. This was definitely the highlight of my trip to Granada, and I haven’t had a chance to see anything else like this yet. But just imagine. The rhythm of the guitar, the musicality of the castanets and the shoes tapping the wooden floors. The rough voice of a Spanish woman, intonating each word with the same passion the dancers put in every single movement.

I treasure the experience until this day and I hope one day to be able to see another show like this.

Love, Nic


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