Our flamenco immersion and impression in Seville (1) - Tablaos
When my husband and I selected Seville for our first trip together in 2023, I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to immerse myself in the flamenco culture there. We weren’t new to Seville, and I didn’t particularly feel the necessity to pack my flamenco shoes in the suitcase. We didn’t pre-make plans about seeing flamenco shows either.
It was before our arrival. As soon as we landed in the beautiful city full of Moorish architecture and orange trees, we passed by an aspiring flamenco performance group in the lovely park of Jardines de Murillo. Random flamenco encounters continued along our way to the hotel, as we occasionally heard sounds of palmas and singing from the streets. Feeling already immersed in the Andalusian air, my expectation and administration for local flamenco suddenly started to grow.
We couldn’t, however, afford to try many venues. One of the most famous tablaos in Seville, Los Gallos, for example, was closed until February. Among our limited time and experience, I’d like to share our impressions from two of the most important tablaos in Seville: ‘La Casa del Flamenco’ and ‘La Casa de la Memoria’.
La Casa del Flamenco
It was only a coincidence for us to find this place, while walking around the enchanting maze of cobbled streets in the beautiful former Jewish quarter, la Juderia, where we stayed. Being a part of Hotel Alcántara, the site itself used to be a palatial residence, dating back to the 15th century. They converted the patio to such an eye-catching, atmospheric tablao, where selected flamenco artists give delightful shows every night.
Beautiful to the eyes, cosy to feel relaxed, the show space was full of tourists of different nationalities. The live music was acoustic, which enabled us to enjoy the genuine sounds of the singing voice, guitar and footwork.
Actually, before going there, I had no clue how good their show could be, so I picked a particular date when I could see the dancers Susana Casas and El Junco, who are relatively well-known to flamenco fans.
We made the right choice. While I loved the elegant and profound 'Tarantos' by Susana Casas too, I especially wanted to cherish more of la gracia and the humour of El Junco in his 'Algerías'… He’s such a unique artist whom you can’t forget. I was also impressed by the artistry of the guitarist Rubén Romero. We left the lovely venue, feeling inspired.
La Casa de la Memoria
This is one of the places which my husband chose for me to visit. The original centre was founded in 1999 in el Barrio de Santa Cruz, and in 2012 they moved to the current location of Calle Cuna, where you can also find quite a few flamenco fashion shops.
Their building, former stables of the palace of the Countess of Lebrija, also dates back to the 15th century. Now a beautifully restored compact theatre, you can be so close to the stage (and other guests who sit next to you), making the experience unforgettable.
Despite being a theatre which also has upstairs seats, they perform to acoustic sounds too, which makes the atmosphere so magical. My husband was especially enchanted by the exquisite technique of the guitarist Tino, while I was fascinated by the passionate and wholehearted singing by Juan de la María.
To be honest, I hadn’t heard of the dancers before, but both were fantastic and I’m so glad to have discovered them. While Alumudena Serrano presented her expressive and heartfelt 'Tarantos', Óscar De Los Reyes entertained us with his elegant, strong yet playful 'Alegrías'. (I don’t know if it’s a commonly used format in such a tablao that the female dancer does Tarantos and the male dancer Alegrías, or if it was just a coincidence.)
The show was captivating and the entire group provided an intense yet friendly atmosphere. Again, we felt inspired and uplifted after the excellent experience.
‘The best flamenco show’ might be a commonly used strategic catchphrase at many flamenco tablaos in Spain. In reality, the quality and level of the show differ, and how you assess would depend not only on the particular performers and venues but also on your own tastes, preferences, knowledge, expectations as well as prejudices.
Regarding the two tablaos we went to, although we visited each place once only, I had the impression from their programmes that their shows are generally guaranteed with high quality.
We’re aware that many tablaos are now meant for tourists who support the flamenco artists financially. I could say, nevertheless, La Casa del Flamenco and La Casa de la Memoria both try to offer proper flamenco to cater not only for such novice speculators but also for flamenco enthusiasts. If you have a chance to go to Seville, they’re both worth trying - and you could make the experience your own.
La Casa del Flamenco
La Casa de la Memoria