Remember when you came to visit me in Madrid and wanted to go to a flamenco show? And I talked you out of it? TWICE? Even going to so far as to make you watch a You Tube video in an effort to dissuade you? Remember that?
I made a mistake. Previous ethnic song and dance routines had influenced my decision making process. A tango show in Buenos Aires and a Chinese opera in Xian were the main culprits. In the case of the tango show, the accordian got to me, all that whinging and moaning. Forget about the dancing. Half an hour of that music put me over the edge. The same goes for the Chinese opera. The erdu, or whatever it’s called, combined with the back of the throat keening made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Therefore, I was none to keen to suffer through an hour of Much Less Than the Gypsy Kings. Although the guitar was a draw, the thought of semi-Arabic ululations was reminiscent of the aforementioned cultural displays. Plus, the show was expensive and you only get one drink with your ticket.
Now I have to confess that I have been to two flamenco shows. And loved them both.
First, I went to Casa Patas near the Plaza Santa Ana with Miss Sherri, a friend visiting from Mexico. Having purchased the tickets last minute, we were far from the stage. As they say in Mexico, ni modo; I’d heard the flinging sweat circumference could be deadly. The guitar music and singing were fantastic and Miss Sherri liked the men in black. However, there was not much dancing.
At least compared to the show at Las Carboneras, right around the corner from our beloved Botin and the Mercado San Miguel. We went there last week with the ContraCosta family for the 10:30 show. Flamenco Jo, a friend from church and a flamenco aficionado, got us the best seats in the house, right off the stage. Three women, in various styles of flamenco dress, sat down in front of a phalanx of somber looking men playing guitars and singing, all dressed in black. These senoras could sing as well as tell stories with their feet.
The first dancer led us on a homicidal bender, discovering her lover’s infidelity, dispatching him in a rage, and then attending his funeral as she lifted her polka dot dress to reveal her calves and feet rat-a-tatting the saga. The second dancer led us on a comedic ramble, slapping her thighs, rolling her eyes, all the while snapping her fingers and clapping her hands. Dancer #3 went back to the theme of betrayal, leading us through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief, clapping her hands thoughtfully, as if she were washing them. For the finale, a man dressed in a shiny black suit and red shirt, sporting a short ponytail, came on stage. This gentleman took us on a journey of female conquest, dancing so vigorously we thought he would fall off the stage. All of the dancers were drenched in sweat by the end of the show, it was true. (Luckily for me, I was beyond the strike zone).
So, Leezer, the next time you are in Madrid, I am picking up the tab for flamenco. By then I will have a fully informed opinion and will have sussed out the best show in town. On our way back to the Metro station, we’ll stop by the Mercado and get an olive pop. I now have the Madrid itinerary down pat.
You can check out both shows on the links below:
If you need Flamenco Jo to set it up for you, go to www.insidersmadrid.com!