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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Our flamenco immersion and impression in Seville (2) - La Carbonería

We were lucky that our hotel was just around the corner from there - otherwise it could’ve been easily hidden in the narrow cobbled residential street of Calle Céspedes in the Jewish quarter of Seville. Passing through the garden with planted trees and bench seats, there appears the converted bar, a former coal storage place, welcoming both locals and tourists. That is ‘La Carbonería’.

Since it resides so close to where we stayed, popping in there for a drink or two to conclude each day became our night routine during our unforgettable holiday in Seville. In more simple terms, we went there every night (apart from our final day when we went to Calle Betis, about which I’m going to write next week).

For the nighttime, their space tends to be packed partly due to their policy of ‘free entry’ (instead, you’ll be asked to order something from the counter). Unlike other commercial flamenco venues, we couldn’t find prior information about who was performing that evening until our arrival. The only thing we knew was that they do 30 min shows at 20.30, 21.30, 22.30 respectively, by the same single group of the night. As their last gig starts at 22.30, you could endeavour ‘flamenco crawl’ just like what we sometimes did, that is, catching up with their last slot after enjoying another flamenco show at another venue.

The performance space is quite tiny with a wooden platform directly placed on the floor. Basically, at least when we went there, the group of artists didn’t consist of more than one singer, one guitarist and one dancer - very simple. What makes the show at La Carbonería a little more different and intimate than ‘tablaos’ is that their flamenco-savvy friends also join with palmas and jaleos, sometimes jumping in with a pataíta in the fin de fiesta too.

They seem to have certain artists alternating daily, although some appear consecutively. As far as I’ve observed, they’re trying to present as authentic flamenco as they can, regardless who is in the audience. Usually each slot opens with a cante solo, which could be Siguiriyas, Soleá por Bulerías, Tangos, etc., depending on what the singer wants to fill the air with. Among the singers we saw, I only managed to learn the names of two that are Juan El Juana and Javier Allende, who both respectively delivered their cante with heartfelt artistry.

Among the dancers we had, I liked Mathilde Virginia ‘La Chula’ the most, in the sense that she communicated with the musicians so well and responded to the singing elegantly instead of disturbing it, which sometimes occurred with other dancers. On the particular evening, she also had the most entertaining ‘backing-up’ friends who did witty palmas and jaleos for her, while one of them gave us the most flavoursome pataíta of Bulerías too, making the night the best of the week.

Before each show, the singer would ask the audience to keep quiet and not to take any photos or videos, in order to avoid distractions. As you can guess, there are always certain people who disregard such requests and disrespect both the artists and fellow audiences... I must say, however, most of the visitors in the house try to maintain the atmosphere right for the artists, and I hope you can do the same if you have a chance to go there.

La Carbonería is the place for the most accessible flamenco nights in Seville. If nighttime isn’t ideal for you, they also host cultural gatherings related to other art forms during daytime, such as poetry, literature, paintings, etc., which could give you other types of inspiring experience of Spanish culture too. You can certainly add this welcoming place to your must-go list in Seville.

La Carbonería (Facebook)


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