Monday, October 1, 2012

When in Madrid

Flamenco in Madrid

Seville is the province that most foreign tourists associate with the art of flamenco and yet Seville is, in fact, just one region in a vast area in the southernmost part of Spain that has contributed to the evolution of this fantastic art.
The provinces of Cadiz and Málaga have also bequeathed much to flamenco history - as have the remaining five provinces of Andalusia, although in a somewhat smaller capacity to the others.
However during the 1970s there was a mass exodus of flamenco artistes who left Andalusia in search of a better livelihood In Madrid. There were two main reasons for this migration; the lack of money and work prospects that existed in Andalusia at that time, and because Madrid had become the epitome of the flamenco scene in Spain.
Wave after wave of renowned artistes flocked to Madrid because they knew that money could be earned in the plush new flamenco tablaos that were opening in the center of the city.
One of the most famed was Los Canasteros; a grand tablao owned by the illustrious singer, Manolo Caracol, who had retreated to Madrid after his extremely public separation from Lola Flores.
Los Canasteros was the place that flamenco’s elite would perform side by side and it was also were numerous up-and-coming performers made their artistic names.
Camarón de la Isla was one of many youngsters who left their customary village lifestyles behind to make good in the hubbub of Madrid.
During the 1970s artistes such as he would have rubbed shoulders with numerous legendary figures like El Sodera de Jerez, El Terromoto, Bambino and La Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera; all of whom had been lured to the exciting flamenco scene that was thriving in Madrid.
Little has changed today and one can experience some of the best flamenco in Madrid whilst relaxing in one of the grandeur tablaos like Torres Bermejas, El Café de Chinitas, Corral de la Pacheca, Casa Patas or Corral de la Moreria.    
Torres Bermejas (formerly La Taverna Gitana) opened its doors for the first time in 1960 and this plush flamenco club was the only tablao that Camarón performed in during his early years in Madrid: It was also the place where he would meet Paco de Lucia!
This fabulous establishment, which is decorated in the style of the magnificent Alhambra Palace, is situated in the very heart of Madrid – just minutes from the Gran Via.
El Café de Chinitas is another lavish restaurant where flamenco is performed on a nightly basis. This classically decorated tablao creates a profoundly authentic setting for flamenco and is one place that the flamenco enthusiast should most definitely visit whilst in Madrid.
Much the same can be said of Corral de la Moreria because this is a fine tablao that’s décor and ambience has earned it the name of the ‘Flamenco Cathedral’.
Corral De la Moreria is the venue used for the celebrated Noches Brujas; a series of flamenco shows where some of today’s top artistes appear in a festival that runs every Saturday throughout June.
There is also the Casa Patas, an andalusian-tavern style flamenco bar with walls lined with old photographs of past masters of the art, and huge legs of Serrano ham, morcilla and chorizo hanging from the ceiling. Casa Patas is one of the most traditional because it has the ambience of an era long past and it smells and tastes of all the wonders of antediluvian Spain.
Another good flamenco show in Madrid can be seen at the Corral de la Pacheca; a traditional tablao decorated with the emblematic colorful ceramics and the brass and wrought iron-work that make these establishments so appealing.
As with the others, the stage in this tablao has been the stomping ground for some of flamenco’s most astounding performers including Rafael Amargo, José Merce and Rafaela Carrasco.
Corral de la Pacheca has also played host to some of the previous masters like Juanita Reina, Lola Flores and Rocío Jurado.

The standard of flamenco in all of these places is of similar standard, although it is hard to honestly say which one is the best, for they all offer a pleasurable experience and a night of flamenco that will stay in your mind for long after the show has finished.
One can enjoy delectable cuisine in each of these flamenco tablaos, including the traditional Spanish Pallea, various seafood and fish, succulent meats and hams and, of course, some of the most palatable wines and sherries of the land.

They all claim to be the oldest or the most authentic and they all have an interesting history with regards to the performers that once adorned their stages and a trip to one of these establishments to see a flamenco show will leave most people spellbound.