Hidden Andalusia in Barcelona - Los Juanele and the culture of Sevillanas
My holiday mission
Last year it was unimaginable that we’d be travelling abroad again - now, tourism seems to be refilling the streets of Barcelona. Still not as crowded as it used to be, many people, including ourselves, chose Barcelona as our first holiday destination after the pandemic, rediscovering the joy of this exciting city. While most of the sightseeing landmarks stay the same, the novelty would be that the majority of the people are wearing facemasks; the mask-wearing rate on the public transport looks almost 100%, and quite a few keep it on even outdoors.
Being a Catalan city, Barcelona doesn’t always favour flamenco, although it provides home for a few good flamenco venues as tourist attractions. Talking of flamenco in Barcelona, there is one particular place which is unique and different: Los Juanele. While quite a few cultural sectors had to close down or reduce their capacities after the pandemic, my personal mission during this holiday was to check if our beloved Los Juanele has survived.
The late night of Sevillanas
Los Juanele is a hidden gem of Barcelona’s flamenco scene. It used to be an exclusive club for local flamenco enthusiasts, including those who immigrated from Andalusia, to communally enjoy dancing Sevillanas and Rumbas. In the past, you needed to knock on the door to see if they would let you in. Nowadays they have opened the doors to basically everyone, offering nice sets of home-made tapas.
So we went on a pilgrimage to Los Juanele and gladly found that they were back in business. Actually, we arrived ‘too early’ around 8pm on a Saturday. They put on the music of Rumba Flamenca as soon as we sat at the only available table, since the other tables were all reserved, waiting for the local regulars to turn up.
Around 9pm the regulars started to arrive and the bar staff changed the music to endless loops of different Sevillanas tracks. Occasionally they could have a live band, but not on that night. The locals were relaxed, enjoying chatting over drinks and tapas, warming up until they started to feel like dancing. Eventually, after 10pm, a mature couple stood up to dance Sevillanas, others followed. It was just like old days, except that they danced with facemasks on.
The great thing about this spot is that it’s not a show-up entertainment. Although most of them aren’t trained dancers, they dance with earthy styles, genuinely enjoy themselves dancing and clapping, rather than trying to please touristy audiences like other commercialised flamenco venues. It’s a part of their daily lives, authentic in the real sense.
Situated in the centre of multicultural Barcelona, Los Juanele is the place where you can smell the air of good and old Andalusia. Whether you’re Spanish or not, whether you know how to dance Sevillanas or not, they will make you feel at home with the inclusive Spanish hospitality.
Los Juanele (Barcelona)