Flamenco days in Andalusia

Most visitors to Spain know Flamenco performances from show at hotels, which are often staged once a week. But people who want to see the real thing should go to one of the festivals of dance, which are held in many places in Spain in summer.

Even better is to be at the right time in the right city in the right bar—in Sevilla, for example.

After 10 pm, when the temperature drops below 28 degrees, Sevilla awakes from its sleep and the narrow alleyways in the old city district of Santa Cruz slowly come to life.

The guests throng in to the dimly lit “La Carboneria”. Then it all happens fast.
Juan Ramos, the guitar player from the gypsy district, begins to play his guitar while his friend, Gabriel, a taxi driver, puts his beer to one side, and bangs out the rhythm on

the wooden table.

Other guests join in, a circle forms and then everyone beats in time. The cry of “Ole, Vamos ya,” fires up the guests. Gabriel launches into song.

Two women spontaneously enter the circle. The let down their long, dark hair, click their fingers and begin an erotic, fiery dance.

People who enjoy such an improvised performance understand that flamenco is not just a way of singing and dancing but a way of life.

Precisely how flamenco began is not known. Gypsies—Gitanos—brought it centuries ago to Andalusia. Today, the authentic flamenco is performed in all Andalusian cities such as Sevilla, Cordoba, Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz and Granada.

Many flamenco performance are spontaneous. Tourists often have difficulty discovering small flamenco bars or village festivals where well-known singers, guitarists or dancers appear. But almost every little Andalusian town has flamenco bars and their own festivals and competitions.

The most important flamenco festival, the Bienal de Arte Flamenco de Sevilla, is held every two years in Sevilla. The next performance is in May 2004. Everyone who has a name in the flamenco scene comes to the festival. In the open air, they dance and sing, conferences are held and lessons given.

The festival at Jerez is another essential appointment for flamenco adherents. The latest festival has just been held. In September they must not miss the “Fiesta de la Buleria” in Jerez.

That is when the best flamenco singers in the country celebrate in the bullfighting ring.

In June and July, aficionados travel to Granada. Over these two months, the Festival de Musica y danza offers a series of first-class events.

For all fans, the Festival de la Guitarra in Cordoba at the beginning of July is a high point of the year. Here there are also workshops and lectures on the history of the flamenco guitar.

Flamenco fans also meet at the La Union village in Murcia where, for ten days, in August, the most important competition for flamenco singers is held. - Sapa-DPA

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