The word Flamenco is derived from an Arabic word, Felah-Mengus, that means wandering peasant… a bit like how I feel at the moment actually!
More than a handful of times this year I have found myself in some kinds of social situations where everyone around me aged 3-83 is dancing elegantly and emotionally to flamenco—singing every word the live band plays. Spaniards are well dressed, poised and have a confidence that must be in the olive oil they eat everyday… as much of it as I put on my bread, I just can’t seem to harness it. Flamenco is something that I was really surprised to see so alive in modern-day Spain. It’s such a pleasure for me to find the young and old alike adorning traditional flamenco attire and learning typical dances and songs. It really is still such a huge part of Spanish culture and I love to see tradition passed down even through the age of WhatsApp and Instagram. I’d like to serve you flamenco in a digestible way just to get your feet tapping—its history and practice are extremely complicated and best explained by the experts here, but I am always trying to learn more and share!
Its origins come from the Indian gypsies who arrived in Spain in the 15th century—these gypsies traveled and worked in agriculture among other things. Flamenco has a complex history of culture but one thing that can be agreed upon is that it has always been a music of the PEOPLE with folkloric roots. There is much oral tradition that suggests that flamenco in Spain comes from an area in Seville called La Triana, as well as Jerez and Cadiz. Each city has a spin on flamenco that you’ll see as you travel through Andalusia such as Malaguenas from Malaga, Sevillana from Seville, and Granadinas from Granada.
Flamenco attire (think frills, lace, and polka dots) came to life when the women wore extravagant, form-fitting dresses that demanded attention to cattle auctions to help sell cattle. This would especially be seen at fairs (ferias). Besides dresses, you’ll see fans and large hair pieces—the men’s attire mainly consists of typical “cowboy-wear” from Andalusia. Flamenco attire is still an enormous industry moving nearly 30 million euros annually! You can find Flamenco shops in most cities in the south selling beautifully hand-sewn dresses in bright, attention drawing patterns and colors. These are purchased and word to fairs and festivals throughout the year—as we all know, Spain knows how to celebrate.
<img class="alignleft wp-image-4785 size-medium" src="https://shaspain.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/IMG_3730-300×300.jpg" alt="San Isidro in Nerja" width="300" height="300" srcset="https://www.smartholidaysandalusia acheter moins cher viagra.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/IMG_3730-300×300.jpg 300w, https://shaspain.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/IMG_3730-150×150.jpg 150w, https://shaspain.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/IMG_3730-1024×1024.jpg 1024w, https://shaspain.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/IMG_3730-90×90.jpg 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” />Now, as a tourist/foreigner, you might wonder where to see Flamenco… I have been exploring the options and variety all year and have had a little taste of some different ways to do it! I actually think one of my favorite experiences was in Granada where I saw a very, very small Flamenco “show” sporting only a guitarist and singer—maybe 10 spectators in total in a typical cave venue in the heart of Granada. It was really intimate and thought provoking. I’ve also devoured fancy meals with flamenco shows—singing, live music and elaborate dancing—that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve been to a couple flamenco dinner shows in Triana in Seville, Nerja, and Malaga. None have disappointed—flamenco dancing naturally goes hand in hand with the music. The flamenco dance is expressive and you’ll notice a lot of stomping and clapping and use of castanets—the small wooden hand instruments to make clicking noises. Another way to experience flamenco is simply in a local flamenco bar! There is a really special one in Nerja called El Molino, meaning The Mill, referencing its history of being an old olive oil mill back in the day. The olive press is now used as a dance floor and on most Friday and Saturday nights you’ll find this gem of a bar full of people (locals and foreigners) singing and dancing to the flamenco guitarist.
Truly though, flamenco is such an important piece of Spain—it is something that should certainly be experienced, especially here in its roots in Andalusia. I highly recommend visiting a fair (feria) if you can or experiencing it by night as suggested above. You might feel silly at first, as I still do, but I promise that after a few gin and tonics you’ll be stomping and clapping along.