If you imagined a postcard of Spain it would no doubt incorporate a flamenco scene. Passionate musicians playing their Spanish guitars while dancers stamp and sing! The music style is synonymous with the country.
The rumbas, bulerias, alegrias, soleas, and the acompañamiento (accompaniment) of the singers and dancers, hands rhythmically clapping, voices calling out, really set the stage for the romantic notion of Spain. When we listen to flamenco, its modulations and melismas, we are transported to old Arabian Spain with Islamic monochord songs. To the caves of Sacromonte opposite the imposing Alhambra…
Flamenco music is wrapped up in the history of Spain. Tracing its origin back to “Morisco” (Spanish Moors) roots in the southern regions, where Flamenco was born, it was consolidated as a musical genre in the 18th century in Andalusia. Its creation is also attributed to the gypsies and rapidly spread throughout the country by the nomadic Romani people. Originally arriving in Spain from India they travelled all over Europe. It is undoubtable that despite the mixture of different cultural and musical influences, flamenco comes from the people themselves as it documents their struggles and joys.
Flamenco has wound itself up in Spanish politics, and its popularity has gone through many ups and downs. It has been used as a tool to foster a Spanish identity as well in opposition to the government in protest songs.
Flamenco has since become popular all over the world, especially the United States and Japan. In 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The Toque, the Singing and the Dance are the main forms that flamenco uses to express itself.
Flamenco music is divided into songs or Palos. These are the various styles, and are classified by criteria such as rhythmic pattern, chord progression and geographic origin amongst others.
There are over 50 different palos! Some forms are danced while others are not. Some are performed only by men and others are reserved for women. The musical style of Flamenco, however, is still alive and well and so these traditional distinctions are breaking down, just as new ones emerge. The Farruca, for example, once a male dance, is now often performed by women too.
Generally speaking the most serious of the Flamenco songs are known as cante jondo (or cante grande), while less serious, naive forms are called cante chico. Forms that do not fit either are labled cante intermedio.
Because Flamenco has become an such icon of Spanish culture, it stands to reason that it has become romanticised and while many tourists expect beautiful dresses and foot stomping passion, not all Flamenco is performed on a stage with perfectly co-ordinated pieces. Flamenco is in the sound and stories expressed by the performers, a fierce glare here, a mournful tear there. It is an acquired taste.
Barcelona is considered one of the great capitals of flamenco. We have listed several places here that we recommend you visit.
Where to see Flamenco in Barcelona:
This place is one of the most important flamenco venues in Barcelona. In the heart of Ciutat Vella, next to the Liceu Theater, 23 Robadors, offers beautiful authentic flamenco shows. Expect sweat and tears, they open the floor to the crowd after shows for those that wish to jam into the small hours. On Tuesdays and Sundays the flamenco party starts at midnight. On Saturdays the group 23 Flamenco gives a unique and intimate show from 9:30 p.m. Make sure to check their current news on their facebook page.
The cost of the entrance is 3 EUR.
Performance times may differ due to Corona Virus but they are currently open.
The Flamenco Shows of the Tablao Cordobés
The Tablao Cordobés has managed to preserve the authenticity of flamenco and offers high quality shows with talented and internationally renowned artists. Andalusian in style, the tablao Cordobés is not very large, which allows you to appreciate the expression of the artists: pain, anger, love, jealousy … It is a great advantage to be so close to the artists in such an intimate setting. The performers transmit energy and passion through all the pores of the skin!
Respect and silence are the order of the day: you cannot eat or take photos (except for the last 10 minutes) during the show, to avoid distracting the artists in their improvisational moments. Each representation is unique.
The Show costs around € 45 and includes a drink. You can also opt for a show that includes dinner, which costs about € 79. Dinner is served before the performance and includes food based on typical Spanish dishes. Shows are performed every day at Las Ramblas 35, Raval (Liceu metro)
NOTE: Shows are currently only available from October 2020.
See flamenco at the Palau de la Música
The Palau de la Música is one of the most impressive buildings in the city. Designed by the great architect Domènech i Montaner, the Palau is one of the jewels of Catalan Modernism.
Luckily this place is still a sumptuous performance hall today. The program is very varied and flamenco shows are often scheduled. You can undoubtably enjoy a performance of exceptional standard!
Currently the Gran Gala Flamenco, a work directed by Juan Gómez has been cancelled due to Covid 19, but keep an eye on the program and wait to see when future Flamenco shows will be scheduled. This show performed by a dozen flamenco artists of the new Catalan generation combines music and dance with rhythm and passion in an environment that makes your heart skip a beat. For the exceptional setting, Flamenco shows (or any show) at the Palau de la Música should not be missed!
Open for certain performances!
See a Flamenco show at the Palacio del Flamenco
The Palacio del Flamenco, with its enormous capacity for 380 people, located in an old theater in the center of Barcelona was transformed in 2006 into a space dedicated to the art of Flamenco.
They offer 3 shows every day! So you will surely be able to book a seat! From 6.30pm to 11.30pm.
The shows are professional with a focus on dancing and singing. Perhaps not as authentic as the smaller more intimate performances in smaller venues. Due to its size it’s a great way to experience the postcard of Spain, which some may prefer. And if you have limited time in Barcelona, this might be exactly what you require! If you are looking for a show where you are close enough to feel the heat and see the sweat on the musicians and performers, this may not be the place for you.
Tickets go for around € 35 (show and drink), € 15 for children between 2 and 12 years old
Find them at c/Balmes, 139; metro: Provença
NOTE: The Palacio del Flamenco is temporarily closed due to Covid 19
Flamenco with Los Tarantos
The oldest Flamenco tablao in Barcelona, their venue hidden in a corner of Placa Reial in the center of Barcelona is a great place to enjoy a drink and watch a Flamenco show. They say their stage has welcomed some of the most important flamenco figures of the last century and “it continues to feature authentic flamenco spectacles based on improvisation, programming both big names in the flamenco world and up and coming artists from the local and national scenes.” Currently closed, we hope they reopen soon!
If you are interested in studying Flamenco guitar, you can take an online course with us or in our studios in Barcelona! Our fantastic teachers are experts at explaining the fundamentals and soon you can jam with the pros at 23 Robadors!