When in Granada, we went to Sacramento to watch Flamenco performed by gypsies. We walked through cobble stoned steep streets to get to the place. It was quite an experience -up on the mountains in a house/tavern inside of which looked like a cave. Every other Flamenco performance I had seen, including the one in Barcelona, suddenly seemed rather diluted. The intensity of music, singing, and the dance reminded me of something a Spanish Flamenco teacher said in a film, In all Spain, the big motto on top of Spain is death, the plainness of death. In all old songs of Flamenco, death is just by side. In the bullfight, we are just expecting that, will it happen or will it not?”
It fit fairly well with my personal impression of this particular style of dance, less with the music. I find Flamenco not a tender or subtle dance but one that is very upfront and candid about what it has to say. Most stories associated with Flamenco (Carmen, Salome, etc.) are about passionate love, revenge, and ultimately blood. The music grieves, laments, and reminisces, but the dance mainly spurts action.
Andalucia is believed to be the birthplace of Flamenco with influences from Jewish, Arab, and gypsy cultures. And there, up in the mountain at midnight, watching the sweat beading down the faces of the dancers and musicians and their steady, unyielding gazes, I felt a story coming to life. One that was different from the ones I had seen in films or other performances, this was the story of a people -rejected, bewildered, but not surrendered. That night, I felt closer to Flamenco than I had ever been. Perhaps closer than what I will ever be.