We went to a Flamenco dance show in Granada recently. Let me open this segment with a caveat. This is OUR opinion… it should not be construed as fact. Flamenco, for us, was one of those experiences that you simply can’t miss because of it’s cultural significance here in Spain, but when you’re watching it, you’d almost rather be watching the Kardashians sing Opera while standing on jackhammers. After it’s done you are really glad you went, but you don’t need to go again. And after all of that you’d still recommend other people to go. Flamenco was all of those things. We are convinced that it was actually created during the Inquisition, to convince folks to swear a vow of silence because after experiencing Flamenco, you might want to live with monks for a while, just for the silence. Wow!!
The show started at 9 pm and we were told to get there early for good seats. We did as we were told and we ended up having to wait in a very smoky and very cold room for about 20 minutes. It was even colder outside so Dan had to choose the lesser of two evils: be cold or smell cigarette smoke. He chose to stay inside but it was a very hard choice. Dan was miserable.
They finally open the doors and we are led into a small room the shape of a pill capsule which is essentially a cave dug into the side of the cliff. It had one row of chairs all along the length of the walls on each side. There was enough seating for about 50 people. It kind of reminded me of a bomb shelter, but with pictures on the walls. There was a somewhat narrow area in the middle where the dancers would perform down the length of the room. It was not at all what I was expecting. It is very, very intimate and the chairs seem like they are borrowed from a kindergarten classroom. Mind you, this cost us 80 euros for the family. So it wasn’t cheap, by any stretch of the imagination. We take our seats towards the front of the long room (closer to the doors) and we start people watching. The band files in last, blocking the exit doors. There are NO exits out of this death chamber except if you squeeze past the band. I realize that they are sitting in between me and the bathroom. So it would be very awkward to get up in the middle of the show, of course. This starts to stress me out. What if I have to go to the bathroom in the middle? What if Zoe does? I can only hope the Flamenco is entertaining enough to distract me from this possibility.
After we sit down the kids immediately notice the very drunk Spanish girl across from us. We do not drink so the girls have really never seen a drunk person before and they were absolutely transfixed. It was hilarious, actually. We watched her spill two drinks throughout the course of the show. I’m pretty sure that will be the most memorable part of the experience for the kids. Zoe even took pictures and a video of her and Haley kept asking Dan questions about being drunk. Essentially, we got two shows for the price of one.
The Flamenco show started and it was… interesting. You can kind of call it very loud, very angry tap dancing (staccato stomping, really). Those who do or study Flamenco will tell you that is a horrible over-simplification and an insult to the art. There was a live singer (let’s call her the “wailer”), a live guitar player and up to 4 different dancers, but there was usually only one or two dancing at a time while the rest were clapping. There were 2 male dancers and the rest were female. But they alternated throughout the show.
The singer sang some kind of very loud ballad song that sounded somewhat like a loud Monk chanting and a Muslim call to prayer combined. It was definitely not any kind of toe-tapping, sing-along kind of song. It was a lot of excruciating emotion. It was loud. We realized after the show started that we sat in the chairs right next to the speaker, so that probably didn’t help our experience. We aren’t party people anyway, we don’t usually go to overly loud places so all of this was a cornucopia of sensory overload. I also noticed that our kids were the only people under the age of 21. They are starting to get used to being the only kids in the room. They were pretty fascinated with all of it. There was no complaining, there was just too much new stuff to watch even if they didn’t exactly love it. Frankly it was just too much sensory overload to complain, it just had you stunned.
The dancing was even more emotional than the singing. So much stomping! And arm waving. At one point Dan almost had an eye taken out by the male dancer’s arm flinging. And they were so close to us we were all trying to shove our feet under our little kindergarten chairs so we don’t trip any of the dancers. They were already very angry. No sense in making them even angrier, right?
The show itself started with four dancers who we learned later were just there to warm up the crowd. Then later some other, more mature, dancers came in and did a little more of the passionate stuff. I could not tell if it was choreographed or improvising. Maybe a little of both? They were extremely serious and very intense. They did some neat clapping, rhythmic stuff that I liked and their fast footwork was amazing. I could not imagine how these people were able to do this and still walk the next day. I was sore just getting up from the kindergarten chair.
The show lasted about an hour and that was plenty of time to experience this art form that Spain is so proud of. I can’t say that we liked it. We liked that we went and that we experienced it but we were not inspired to go again. The girls still talk about the drunk girl. I am just happy that none of us (okay, me) had to get up and go to the bathroom. Narrowly avoiding a poke in the eye by an angry dancer wearing heeled shoes and avoiding the embarrassment of disrupting the band for a potty break is a win-win for Team Sherman.
Zoe got a video of the fast-angry-tapping, and the drunk girl. Check it out on her Instagram.
Haley got a picture of the more mature dancer at the end. Here is her video on our travel page on Instagram.
This is so funny! I’m going to see a flamenco show in Spain, and you’ve given a realistic view of it so I can prepare!