Spain is famous for its passion and nowhere is this more evident than in the rhythmic beats of flamenco. This dance is atmospheric, colourful and soulful and, as Intrepid’s Summer Davis discovered, there’s no better place to witness it all than in the historic city of Jerez…
“Arriving late into Jerez de la Frontera, we headed out to search for the traditional ‘peña’ where our own private flamenco performance was booked. This small city, nestled in the south of Spain and only a few hours from Seville, is famous for both its sherry and flamenco and as we didn’t have time to visit a wine bodega we were eager to see a proper flamenco show.
Wandering through the vacant cobblestone streets, it felt like we were the only people in the city, and I couldn’t help wondering how there could possibly be a place where we could enjoy the characteristic energy of the show. Asking for directions at every corner, yet never being able to follow them, made me increasingly nervous, until we wandered into a dimly-lit plaza in the notorious ‘gypsy’ neighbourhood. Daring to ask some youths in the square, they assured us we were close to our destination and pointed us around the corner.
After much searching we found our peña and pushed through the heavy doors into the dimly lit room. There stood our elegantly laid table for eleven and soon we all began to relax with a glass of the famous local wine. In the electrically charged room, three women and two men took the stage, and soon the haunting strum of the flamenco guitar began. A rough, soulful voice joined in, there was a tap of heels and the room was instantly charged with flamenco’s famous energy. Quick, graceful and powerful – the gestures, movements and facial expressions of the brightly dressed women commanded the room, crescendo-ing with the emotion of the music.
Mesmerised by the fierce beat of heels hitting the floor and the rise and fall of the singer’s voice, we ate in silence. In the traditional gypsy style that characterised flamenco, the dancers exuded anguish, sorrow and passion, drawing us into their intense yet unknown story of pain and lost love.
I don’t remember what I ate that night as I was so enraptured by this amazing live performance. The memory of that magic night keeps me drifting back across borders to the sights and sounds of southern Spain.”
* photo by Tess Follett – Intrepid Photography Competition