It’s kind of a relief to know that life got in the way of lots of posts in 2011. I enjoy blogging, but in order to have something about which to write you have to do or witness something, and that I’ve missed some means I was busy :=) Going back through notes and photos as a year-end exercise but also in the wake of the house move I found some which probably deserve a quick mention, although sadly the memories aren’t as sharp as they might have been. So I’m going to whizz off the rest in the next couple of days, in no, particular order, beginning with:
Sevilla > Flamenco, synonymous, no? So why didn’t I write about it back in October, because we did go to see some. We based our choice on economy. There was mounds of publicity around in the hostel, the tourist information office, posters everywhere for different shows, some including dinner, but making a choice wasn’t that hard because some were so expensive. We had no way of knowing which of them might be more authentic and less dressed up for tourism, but the one we chose at Bar Huelva Ocho gave a good impression. We passed by the bar on our way back to the hostel to siesta, and liked what we saw. We spoke to one of the waiters who advised we go early to get the best seats, and as they had what he described as a limited selection of food on quiet Sunday evenings, we decided we’d eat there too for convenience.
It proved a good choice. The food was wonderful, the kind waiter placed our scarves on seats in the best spot, and we only wished we’d gone just a little earlier to linger over the meal a bit longer! Enough to say that we returned to eat there the following night, even though there was no music! We chose 3 or 4 tapas-sized dishes of very original cuisine to share, and each one was a new taste sensation, this washed down with tinto de verano was a definite bonus!
At the back of the bar there was a slightly raised platform with four chairs facing into the bar, a row of chairs along either side, and several rows facing the stage. A portrait of legendary and innovative Flamenco artist Paco de Lucia had pride of place over the performance area. We saw our scarves on chairs along the side of the stage area, and took our seats. There was quite an air of expectancy and it was full, although the waiter had told us that Sunday was quiet. It had that kind of hushed feeling you get in a church, as if we shouldn’t be speaking. Without fanfare, two men and a woman in what we think of as traditional Andalucian dress entered and took their places on the chairs on the stage.
From the moment that the first guitar chord sounded the room fell into an awed silence, and Maria said afterwards that she had goosebumps. A shiver ran down my spine. I never hear flamenco without cursing that I don’t speak better Spanish, and yet the passion and the heartbreak often don’t need any translation at all. None of the performers looked once at the audience. They were in a whole other place, eyes fixed on points far above our heads. The dancer clapped, her face betraying that she was living the words of the songs in her head. When she rose to dance eventually, I took a sharp intake of breath, the anticipation had been wrought out of us so well. Still eyes fixed on something beyond our vision or comprehension, she told stories with her hands and feet and body, exuding anguish, despair, defiance and love in turn, and then, in the same way they had arrived, they rose and left, almost as one person. It was over, and despite the small crowd the room felt empty.
We were lucky to have hit on a night which was free. We couldn’t quite figure out why, something to do with it being Sunday, but at €14 including a drink it was quite one of the most reasonably priced shows around anyway. The food is nothing short of divine, if you don’t want to see Flamenco try it for lunch! As we left we recognized a couple of the guides from Pancho Tours with whom we’d done the walking tour the previous day, so it clearly is on their night-time agenda too.