Here are 6 insider tips to experience the best flamenco dancing. Madrid is the best city in Spain to enjoy an authentic flamenco show.
Actually, Madrid is considered by many as the mecca of flamenco.
And there’s a reason for this. Madrid serves as a major arena for business and competition for flamenco artists.
But with so many options to choose from throughout the city finding a genuine, high-quality show can sometimes be a little tricky.
Oh fear not. I’ve done all the research for you.
And what if you prefer to decide on your own?
Just follow the tips below. That way you’ll know what to look for when choosing the flamenco show you’d like to see.
The most important of all, although intangible, is the feeling that the whole performance expresses and brings to life. Therefore, I recommend you to actually feel the performance with all your senses, and let yourself get lost into the music and the dance movements.
Each show has its unique story and emotions. Whether you are seated in one of the popular tablaos or in an improvised show, just breathe deeply and let yourself be transported into the story that the musicians and dancers are transmitting. You’ll fall in love with it!
When researching which flamenco show you should go to, you should always focus on two ideas: simplicity and quality.
In flamenco, a range of emotions and states (e.g., sadness, happiness, drama, love, fear) are briefly and simply expressed.
Forget the visual and typical clothes. The best artists, whether they are dancers, singers or musicians, always dress very modestly (mostly black or dark colors, no prints).
One last piece of advice.
Don’t go to any kind of show or performance where the singers use a microphone. The cantaores‘ voice must be strong and deep enough to reach the audience without any technology. Keep in mind that until the 20th century there was no guitar playing in any flamenco performance. So all songs were sung a palo seco – no instrument, just with palmas accompaniment.
The best shows don’t necessarily happen in the most professional and popular locations.
In fact, shows in small venues are often more spontaneous and more authentic.
If you stay in Madrid long enough, try to attend both kinds of performances, as they offer very different experiences. The ones in elegant locations feature experienced artists of incredible professionalism. On the other hand, shows in smaller clubs are usually performed by the people of the neighborhood, who inherit the dance from their family tradition.
Alternatively, you can also find improvised flamenco shows in a flamenco bar or a peña. These places are frequented by rising stars who are not yet famous enough to be invited to more affluent locations.
Madrid is full of places where you can see an genuine flamenco show!
One of the golden rules to enjoy a flamenco show to the maximum is to arrive very early, especially if you want to have the best view.
In most tablaos flamencos the shows take place after dinner. So the best option is to have dinner there, where the flamenco show will take place. These venues often feature a combo ticket including a variety of tapas at affordable prices, offering a great chance to enjoy a tasty dinner with a live show.
But of course, you can always choose not having dinner in the same place. If that’s the case, you should arrive at least 45 minutes before the show.
And if you plan to attend a free flamenco performance in a bar or peña, you’ll need to arrive well in advance to ensure good spots to see the action as close as possible.
Be silent when the guitar sounds. It’s the first sound that anticipates the show, and from then on remain quiet and pay attention.
Sometimes, the drama of the choreography leads to a pause, a break, a silence… to resume the dance. Refrain from speaking or even whispering.
So please, don’t make noise when eating or drinking at your table during a performance.
And if you need to go to the toilet or you plan to go to counter to order a drink, wait for the audience applause or the change of artist to move around the room.
If you arrive late or you go to a flamenco bar and there’s an improvised performance, avoid entering the room once a piece has begun. You would interrupt the recollection, the concentration, and you would wash the duende out. Wait for a song to end.
Usually photography and video are not permitted during the main part of the performance. However, depending on the venue (and this is particularly true for tablaos), the artists inform the audience they can take photos and video in the last 10 minutes of the show. So don’t use your cameras or smartphones before you’re formally invited to do so.
Sometimes you may feel like clapping along with the artists, or throwing out a couple of “¡olé!”.
What should you do in this situation?
Well, in most cases it will depend on the venue and setting. The closer to the stage or the space where the artists are performing you are, typically the less appropriate.
If you don’t know specifically where in the compás and where in they lyrics to offer jaleo, and you don’t master palmas, you wouldn’t want to participate. A few clapping at the wrong time can throw things off or interrupt.
If you do know those things well and it is just a new venue to you, look around and see what others are doing. Try to follow the rhythm of the cante. And if you still can’t, copy the rhythm of the rest.
This article is part of a complete tutorial about flamenco in Madrid where you can read all the information you need to enjoy this typical Andalusian folklore.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. What is flamenco?
2. Where to see flamenco in Madrid?
3. The best flamenco show in Madrid
4. Flamenco tablaos in Madrid
5. Small flamenco venues in Madrid
6. Flamenco bars in Madrid
7. 6 tips to enjoy flamenco dancing in Madrid
8. Where to take flamenco dance lessons in Madrid
9. Flamenco history and origins
10. Understanding flamenco singing (cante)
11. Understanding flamenco dance (baile)
12. Understanding flamenco guitar (toque)
13. The different flamenco styles
14. A flamenco glossary