The buildings are lit with a warm yellow light. I trace my path on Google Maps confirming my location with the movement of my blue dot. I’m in an alleyway and I look ahead and the road is a dead end. I start to become concerned. Am I lost? I walk to the end, ready to turn around and dissapointed that I’ll miss the show. I zoom in and out on the map trying to get my barings. I’m in the right spot, but it’s not the spot that I should be in. A terse laugh breaks the silence causing me to look over at the door that blends into the wall. It’s ajar. A small, tiled sign hangs to the right. “Peña Flamenca Torres Macarena”. I am in the right spot, surprised. I push the door open, hesitantly, not knowing if it is okay. Three men sit around a small card table in a room that isn’t much bigger than the table. All older than 70 and all in gray sweaters. They silence themselves, startled that I am in their space. A sign indicating “6 Euros” comforts me. I’m in the right spot and allowed to be here.
“Tienes cambio?” I ask. Without even speaking, the man hands me back my change and waits for me to continue in. As I distance myself, they go back to laughing at uncomprehensible stories. I’ve been in Spain for almost two months. I arrived in Seville yesterday and was excited to go experience the beauty and passion of Flamenco. Seville is the birthplace of this art and I wanted to experience it. Tourist shows were advertised everywhere, but I wanted to escape the crowds, the selfies and the tourist “to do” list.
Glasses of vino tinto and plates of croquettes and patatas bravas are enjoyed at tables that are too short. A man dressed all in black approaches the stage with guitar in hand. Silence falls over the room as the purposed and perfect strum and finger placement stuns the crowd. Magnificent and impressive. Toes tapping and reverberating a perfect metronomic beat. Eyes closed, fingers know the routine.
The audience is enraptured. Marveling at the quick movement from fret to fret with the entrancing beat of the strum. The back corner door opens- it’s dark, but I can see the outline of a ruffled dress. A stunning woman, in her mid-thirties, slowly climbs the stage. Walking with the grace that is needed for the stage, she ascends not making a sound with her feet. Deep, red lips puncuate her focused gaze to the back of the room. Her hands rigid with fingers at the ready. She paces around the stage, not making a sound while engaging with the guitar player and two singers. The room is silent and enthralled with the passion and beauty of this woman; waiting to see her next move. Flamenco is a dance of passion. An art form that isn’t for the young as they are not mature enough to understand the importance and emotion of it. Each dance danced with so much emotion and each song sang with your everything that it is said you leave a little piece of yourself behind. Typically you don’t hit your stride with flamenco until you are in your thirties and even into your fifties. It is with this life experience that you’ll be able to understand the emotion and passion of flamenco.
She grabs a handful of dress at her hips and hikes her skirt up. The ruffles on the side opening to show a slit and showing her black, heeled shoes. She runs this room. The snap of her fingers, the stomp of her feet, the fast movement like popping popcorn. The room marvels at her capability of rapid and precise movements. The singers skillfully reading her body language. They know how to accentuate her performance with the correct cantor and the perfect clapped cadence. The woman spins quickly showing the hot pink lining of her skirt. Her hoop earring flies from her ear and she does not stop or care rather is only intoxicated with the beat and passion flowing through her. A final twirl, stomp and arms in the air. Deep breaths and a heaving chest lead to a wide smile as the audience erupts in applause. Friends look to each other in awe of what they just experienced. A whispered “gracias” from the dancer barely emits as she places her hands over her heart and bows her head. The lights rise and the crowd buzzes with palpable energy as they pour out to the dim alleyway while they dream of ways to create ways to encapsulate this passion and energy in their lives.