As the writer of a blog uncovering what’s bubbling underneath Sevilla’s social radar, I should know more than most about what’s hot and what’s not in town. So I’ve surprised myself with how long it has taken me to cotton onto the Corralones in Calle Castellar, just five minutes walk from the Setas. I’d heard various murmurings from my handful of chums who’d nonchalantly dropped into conversation that they’d ended there until 5am on various booze filled evenings, but apart from some pre-Feria Sevillanas classes in a dance studio last year, I’d never fully experienced the full force of the Corralones magic.
But inevitably it would only be a matter of time before I found myself staggering around the dark recesses of this well trodden cobbled courtyard, peering into the raggle taggle collection of lock ups that open their doors every night to transform themselves from artists studios and rehearsal spaces into illicit drinking establishments. The first night I went I was mesmerised by the music being played in Casa Senegal one of the only places that is actually a bonafide bar. Like all the places it’s tiny, and on the night in question it was rammed with a sea of swaying bodies who like me were spellbound by the hypnotic rhythms emanating from the tight band of musicians playing some of the most curious and exotic instruments I’d ever seen. From time to time some crazy African style break dancing would spontaneously erupt much to the enjoyment of an already enraptured crowd who occasionally and far less sure footedly joined in.
Just a few doors up another African venue was rammed with more pulsating bodies, this time moving en masse to the beats of a group of African drummers. Anyone who knows me has heard my regular Seville gripe about the infrequent opportunities to really dance in this city, and when I say dance I mean speaker hugging, heart thumping, bass line pounding dancing, but this came pretty close. And without any additional help, I was in ecstasy.
But that’s not where the fun ends. The Corralones is like a mini festival. On the nights I’ve been there’s been at least four different live music acts playing from the different venues, and it’s not just the old favourites who regularly play the Sevilla live music circuit. I’ve seen some young, talented musicians who more than tip their hats at the UK music scene, some amazing funk, blue grass, in fact pretty much every musical permutation going.
But that’s not the half of it. The magic of the Corralones is the pure random bizarreness of it all. Take Maria Luisa Toledo purveyor of second hand Feria dresses, beer, tinto de verano and beef burgers. Yes I kid you not. Last time I was there, I came away with a dress for this year’s Feria (yet to be taken in and let down by Maria Luisa’s own fair hands), a bottle of Cruz Campo, but not a burger, though I did come pretty close to some raw meat whilst trying on a few frilly numbers behind the rickety, latticed partition. Previously only stationed on the infamous Calle Feria Thursday flea market, this is Maria Luisa´s key moment of the year, in which she caters for the pre-Feria frenzy currently hitting the entire female population of Seville, many of who have been on an ´Operación Feria´ diet for months. And fear not if you don´t want to fork out a fortune on your own bespoke number, you can hire a dress for the week at a mere snip of 50 Euros, which she will especially adjust to your measurements.
You see the Corralones have always been a hive of entrepreneurial activity. Back in the 17th Century it housed hostelry (now a school), followed by stables for the horses of the Duchess of Alba and upholsterers for the carriages they pulled, and as four wheels replaced four legs, in moved the car mechanics, and just 30 years ago the Semana Santa craftsmen. Right now it’s a hot bed for creative talent where metal workers, sculptors and painters rub shoulders with Flamenco dancers, jazz musicians and African dance students.
It’s exciting, there’s a real palpable buzz that fills the whole place, especially at night where it feels anything could happen. I just hope it doesn’t become a victim of its own success. The last time I was there my heart sank for the neighbours on Calle Castellar who must be driven insane by revellers who for some unknown reason were hanging out on the street rather than being inside the Corralones where the sound carries less. Not surprising then that the police are regular visitors to clamp down on the unregulated party antics. But with a little bit of luck, the magic will continue, as with springtime almost here, we will soon herald in the warm, balmy evenings of the long, summer months to come.
The Corralones, Calle Castellar 52
Second hand Flamenco dresses to buy and hire – Maria Luisa Toledo, Taller 4, Tel 608347843