I´m one of the few people in Sevilla who doesn´t know their arse from their elbow when it comes to Flamenco. I remember back in London town, watching some performances at Sadler´s Wells and naively convincing myself that my sometimes furrowed brow and intense expression would equip me perfectly for being a Flamenco dancer. What I failed to take into account were the hours and hours of dedicated practise in order to get feet that move like rapid machine gun fire, arms as graceful as swans´ necks and to unlock the ´duende´ within, which no dancer worth their salt would be without. In short, after my brief, tentative foray of two flamenco classes I realised that it wasn´t and never would be, for me.
But that doesn´t stop me from enjoying the art from afar, and over the last few years I´ve garnered some handy tips that I´m generously willing to pass on to you the reader. So firstly, in order to fit in on the Flamenco scene, timing is of utmost importance, both when it comes to clapping in the right places (the impossibly difficult ´tocando palmas´) and the calling out of a variety of shouts of appreciation, ´Ole!´ being the easiest to master when you´re particularly impressed by any of the performers, but only seasoned professionals should dabble with the rest.
And if you want to get the full flavour of Flamenco away from the tourist traps selling buckets of Sangria then you´re best heading to a Peña. A bit like a Flamenco social club, these are often found hidden away inconspicuously on the many backstreets littering the city. They are open to everyone, and as a non-member you may be asked to pay a nominal amount, for which you will enjoy a two part flamenco show performed by respected, local artists.
As a recent convert to the Macarena, it was only right that I pay a visit to the longest standing Peña in the barrio, the Peña Cultural Flamenca Torres Macarena on Calle Torrigiano. Just 5 minutes walk from the Alameda, it would be easy to blink and miss it from the outside, but as soon as you walk through the doors, you´re greeted by a traditional Andalucian patio, where you can whip yourself up into a frenzy of pre-show excitement over a cool cervercita.
This is a cultural centre dedicated to Flamenco, so don´t go expecting to be able to chinwag your way through the show. Flamenco is a serious business, and once the performance starts an occasionally well placed Ole! is fine, but going on and on about your bunions after walking around the city for hours is not.
On the night of my visit, there were two guitarists and two singers plus the dancer who performed in both parts. This is where I´m afraid my Flamenco Dunce´s cap is firmly on. I personally loved it and it was all I imagined Flamenco show to be. The singing ripped through me like a grief stricken gypsy widow, the dancer kept me rooted to the spot with her combination of elegance, intensity, power and occasional humour. But what do I know, I´m a complete dancin´ dullard?
But either way, it´s worth a visit. Check out the website to see when they´ve got something on as while there seems to be almost always something on Wednesdays and Fridays, this isn´t always the case.
Peña Cultural Flamenca Torres Macarena on Calle Torrigiano 29, Telephone 954 37 23 84