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It’s heavy on the percussion.
The thing you have to understand about Barcelona: the whole city is beautiful. They go on about the architect Gaudí and the Modernista style, but that’s hardly the start or the end of it. Near every apartment house has a stone facade with balconies and cornices and more stonework than you see on your average American bank. You can gain quite a bit of value just walking through the streets and looking at the buildings, nevermind the famous attractions.
I spent a week in the city; we had an AirBnB just off of Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is a boulevard that extends from the statue of Christopher Columbus (pointing out to sea, but not towards the New World because Barcelona is on the wrong coast for that) north to the Plaza Catalunya and the middle of the city. To the east, you’ve got the old town, the Gothic quarter, full of narrow streets that people nevertheless drive down. It gets awkward.
To the west of Las Ramblas, you get into a poorer section. You’re bleeding off the touristic stuff into places where people actually live. The prices drop, you start to see grocery shops instead of tourist shops, and the restaurant menus are no longer also printed in English. You also see quite a bit more places claiming to be halal, with more Arabic script. We stayed within a short walk of four separate restaurants whose names were some variant on “Istanbul.”
Far as politics goes, you see quite a few Catalan flags and very few Spanish ones. You’ll find yellow ribbons hanging from balconies, tied around trees and lamp posts. Plenty of signs asking to free all political prisoners now. Once, walking through the municipal plaza, we passed a protestor, painted and gagged, not looking very happy. His message was printed in English, which ought to tell you who he was trying to convince. I ought to have stopped some of the ordinary folks and asked them what they thought about it all, but I’m not the sort of person who likes talking with people, and after all, I was on vacation.
I only saw the one flamenco presentation. I’m assuming it’s a dying art form because I saw no evidence of it being practiced outside of that one tourist show. Except one thing; every morning a crazy guy was screaming in our street. Never could tell why, until the flamenco singer started introducing their dancers. Sounded exactly like the crazy guy in the alley. Huh.
Those singers look like nothing so much as @randyweivoda. They’re bigger guys, maybe they danced in the past but for now they sit in the back, and bang on the floor with canes in time with the dancers. Insofar as Spain has included that in the art form they’ve done a service to civilization second only to their invention of the siesta.
There were three older guys, each one would sing for a while, evidently introducing a dancer (although I couldn’t make heads or tails of the words.) They’d sing out, then their dancer would come up and stomp around a while. Bang! Real loud on that wooden stage; if you’re a fan of the fireworks in a fourth of July celebration, the ones that do nothing more than be loud, then you’ll probably like the flamenco.
There were four total dancers. An older lady, who wasn’t exactly a cruiserweight, if you catch my drift. One wonders how her ankles could stand it. A young guy, with a hatchet face and hair tied back, and two younger ladies. The ladies wore long dresses, they’d hike up their skirts to keep their ankles clear as they danced, to show us the fancy footwork that accompanies the staccato machine-gun fire of the bangs, but mostly to show off their ankles to the males in the audience. It’s not unappreciated.
For the ladies, the dresses were magnificent. One of the younger ladies came out in a red dress that trailed on the floor behind her for 18 inches. She demonstrated more dexterity than an oafish clomper like myself could muster just by walking in that dress. And the dancing? She swirled it around, great sheets of scarlet cloth spinning as she stomped on that wooden stage. A marvelous show.
The older lady sings, and you can’t sing flamenco quietly. You can tell she’s overworked her voice over the years. She can still sing the parts but her voice isn’t that long for the world. Perhaps that was another sign that the artwork was still practiced; our landlady, an older dame, had a voice like she’d been grinding her gears for years. I’ll bet she was a beauty at that dance in her youth.
There were three guitaristas too. They played magnificently. Complex stuff, with finger picking. And the dancing itself? I can’t tell you much about it. All this whirling and banging and the fancy footwork. Well worth watching, but even this soon after, all I’ve got left are vague impressions. Still, I’ll always be able to say that I’ve seen the senoritas dance the flamenco in Barcelona.