Advice Autentico

Posted in Travel at 11:44 by RjZ

We stepped in the taxi and asked for Cuevas de Luis Candela. The hotel concierge had made the recommendation with confidence that we would be very happy, but the taxi driver smirked and was unimpressed. So we asked him what was wrong with that choice and if he had something better…after all, his guess of what there is in Madrid is bound to be a lot better than ours.

He told us that Cuevas is a place that tourists seem to enjoy but that he’d never been there. ‘How about flamenco?’ he suggested. We made our way to downtown and called along the way to see if we could make reservations at his suggested place. Nope, dinner was booked, although, the flamenco show started at 11 so we could still make that. We called another one and this one had room for us. Plus the show started at the kid friendly hour of 10 pm (which was just fine with us after a long day on the trade show floor.)

We arrived to a small venue, black inside with tables around and a bar. The urban modern furniture and simple decorations and menu we’re classy and hip. Being only 9:30 pm, it was completely empty, but as we sat at our table, we noticed that tables all around were reserved and Spanish guests slowly started filing in. The menu had only the ubiquitous jamón y queso and we added big jarra of sangria to our tab. We were a few glasses into it before the show started.

Flamenco at Las Tablas

The performers, two women and one man as dancers, two guitarists and two singers, all casually dressed, made their way to the stage. Each of them was so relaxed and comfortable, as if performing for several of their friends, which they may very well have been doing. But the performances were honest, emotional, and powerful. The singers belted out their moorish influenced chants and mournful melodies and clapped in complex syncopation. The dancers posed and spun and slammed their heels on the stage.

There may have been other tourists in the club, but it certainly didn’t seem that way. One Spanish family had brought their children (the show only started at 10 and ended at about 1 am). Jars (large pitchers) of sangria were drained and filled again at every single table and they may have carved a complete leg of smoked Iberian ham before the night was over. Still, nothing about the evening, not the lights, the acoustics, the costumes, was anything but simple, straight forward, down to earth and…absolutely entertaining.

Perhaps we missed out on traditional costumes or English explanations of the performances and traditions. These performers quite likely aren’t as good as the famous flamenco dancers getting paid much more. Maybe we would have enjoyed being in an authentic Spanish Bodega instead of could-be-anywhere urban club, but if you have a chance to see the flamenco at Las Tablas, Madrid, you’ll be treated to a truly authentic piece of living Spanish culture.


  1. erin said,

    June 29, 2007 at 12:55


  2. RjZ said,

    June 29, 2007 at 18:51

    you are so kind.

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