This week, Sarah, our high-school friend Julie, and I experienced real flamenco for the first time. I say “real” because Sarah saw a sort of flamenco show in Madrid; however, it had consisted of balletic tapping by a man wearing only jean shorts, and a band projected onto a digital screen.
The Barcelona club, Tarantos, was bathed in a soft glow that we deemed worthy of a Greenwich Village jazz club. Unlike New York City and in accordance with Spanish custom, the band arrived fashionably late. Two minutes after the stage lit for act one, the performers entered not from backstage, but from the front door. They delicately lugged their suitcases and cellos across the stage. To be fair, they then prepared themselves with German efficiency.
The singer looked like a beauty pageant contestant, draped in a white scarf tied diagonally; but rather than squeakily explaining how her beauty could improve life for starving children in Africa, she belted Spanish songs in deep, passionate bass.
The members of the band were clearly living their dreams. The beat keeper sat atop a box, thumping on it with the complacency of a child that never grew up. The cellist, like all born cellists, was hugging and rubbing his instrument as though it were his wife. The accordion player, sporting an askew hairdo that made him look like an owl, quietly harmonized.
The guitar player, the cowboy of the group stared down the audience with hard black eyes. He settled on a restless 4-year old boy that was threatening to cause a diversion and quickly stared the child into submission. I aim to recreate that look for my own children one day.
Then came the dancers. The woman tapped like those that perform in piazzas throughout Spain; the show belonged to the man. When he appeared in pinstripes and cufflinks, I envisioned him cha-cha-ing down Wall Street. His turquoise silk shirt was the only thing that would make him stand out. He suddenly broke into a furious thunder of tap and it dawned on me that many Wall Streeters would enjoy the same catharsis.
Finally, the singer’s daughter crept in and sidled up to her mother, where she sat imitating her mother for the remainder of the show. I love miniatures.
At the rate Sarah and I are going these days, we too will be practicing flamenco in local piazzas before you can say “Allay!”