Learning how to Flamenco dance and watching an unforgettable performance in the heart of Madrid.
One of the excursions that my entire A.C.I.S. group was excitedly looking forward to was Flamenco lessons in Madrid.
We went to Villa Rosa, an old tablao which opened in 1911. In it’s hayday, it was said to be home to some of the world’s greatest Flamenco dancers.
You can visit the official website here, to get a taste of some of the music we listened to and to see old photographs. There is also a brief history of the building, although it’s in badly translated English.
The painted tiles were iconic; splashes of light on the otherwise dark brown walls of the low-ceilinged room.
While the kitchen staff were busy making preparations for the dinner crowd, we had our lesson. It was awkward, and we all stumbled and giggled through the entire class. The lesson was fun, but a little lengthy, and unsatisfying as none of us had perfected anything by the end of the class.
Finally, it was time for dinner.
One of my friends and I were lucky enough to grab the spot right up against the middle of the stage. Dinner arrived in tiny courses: tapas, paella, sausage. This was my favorite meal while in Spain, as it offered the most selection and gave us tastes of classic Spanish cuisine.
Then, the performances began.
Flamenco is one of the most physically demanding forms of guitar playing, and these two performers did not dissapoint. The previously loud crowd of chattering dinner guests suddenly was struck silent, and everyone stared in awe at the two performers.
None of us knew what was in store for us.
The musicians continued to play, but attention was no longer on them. The dancers came out and sat on the bench against the painted tiles.
One by one, they stood up to dance. Their outfits were traditional and full of vibrant culture.
While each stood to stand, the other two clapped and stomped time in a cadence too complicated for me to follow, and they shouted out with musical shrieks and rolled r‘s.
Each performer was better than the last, and they twirled and stomped in an intense display.
Their expressions were intense and strained, and I don’t have to do a lot of guesswork as to how difficult their feats must have been.
As I mentioned before, we had gotten front row, and the dancers often hovered directly above us. This had one unexpected outcome:
Yeah… not quite so soaked as seaworld, but we were nonetheless splashed with sweat from the dancers.
It. Was. Awesome.
Their dance was so physically demanding that they began to break into heavy sweats immediately. Very often, when they came close to our table, we would feel a sudden sprinkling. I vividly remember the hilarious surprised expression on my friend sitting across from me every time we were hit.
It was unforgettable.