Note: If possible, I recommend you listen to this —Guajiras de Lucia—flamenco guitar song while reading this article to better appreciate the culture and difficulty of this music genre. The piece is by Paco de Lucia, perhaps the greatest flamenco guitar player of all times.
Spain’s southern provinces that belong to the autonomous region of Andalucia are famous for the sun, beaches, food and perhaps most important of all, cultural heritage, and at the heart of this lies Flamenco. This genre of music has its roots in rhythms from eastern Spain, northern Africa and India, bringing together a series of melodramatic songs and dances that transcend into the spiritual and inner self, with guitars being the main source of music and often accompanied by clapping and singing.
Seville’s relationship with flamenco music has been long and faithful, with the neighborhood known as Triana being considered the epicenter of flamenco and gypsy culture in Seville. This area is in the South side of the Guadalquivir river, and free guided walks to it are available. However the buildings and streets do not provide any visual entertainment as the area is, perhaps as expected, a lower class “barrio”. It is here that the real flamenco venues are located, and during the weekends flamenco players and dancers improvise their music late into the night. During the week, however, there is little to find here, and visitors will have to find a “tablao” (the stage where flamenco is played) somewhere in the tourist area.
When asking around for tablaos where we could watch a flamenco show most locals would mention three that are in the area near the river, namely tablao El Arenal near the bullring La Maestranza or El Palacio Andaluz, a few blocks away. But we figured these to be a bit too far from our hotel for our liking, and remembered having spotted one just a few blocks away from the apartment we had spent that night in. We made our way there and it turned out to be tablao Los Gallos, the oldest in town with performances happening every night since 1966.
Tablao Los Gallos: The Venue
Located in Plaza Santa Cruz 11, tablao Los Gallos (the roosters) is located in a quiet area of Santa Cruz, without a doubt the most interesting for any visitor in Seville. This particular area is quiet and while much of it is pedestrian only it is possible to get here by car. There are two shows that run daily, from 8pm-10pm and from 10:30pm-12:30pm. The first one usually has more guests, but those with time in their hands wait for the second one and let themselves drift late into the night watching the artists embrace their passion. The entrance fee is 35€ (affordable when compared with other locations) and it includes one basic drink, namely sangria, beer, water or a soda.
The Flamenco Show in Tablao Los Gallos
The two hour flamenco show in tablao Los Gallos includes a wide repertoire with a good exhibition of flamenco guitar music, singing, dancing (male, female, and combined), performed by 5 female dancers “bailaoras”, one “cantaora” (female singer), two “bailaores” (male dancers), three “cantaores” (male singers) and three guitar players, all with many years of experience and even some of them having received national awards. The tablao has been open to the public since 1966 and is the oldest in Seville, another detail that makes this venue somewhat more special. From the moment the first artist steps the stage it is easy to see how passionate flamenco artists are about their music, and they easily transmit their love to the audience who admires in awe its uniqueness.
Flamenco music is vibrant, engaging, soulful and passionate, and tablao Los Gallos is an excellent location where to enjoy a great evening with the performance of expert artists. The staff is friendly, the venue is sufficiently well appointed and I have no doubt you will have a good time. Please note that photographs are not allowed during the show except for the last ten minutes prior to the ending- the staff will make sure you’re aware of this. All things considered I find Tablao Los Gallos to be the best venue where to enjoy a flamenco show as not only is it professional and engaging but the tablao is the most conveniently located for anyone staying in this part of barrio Santa Cruz.
To learn more about this tablao please visit their website www.tablaolosgallos.com where you’ll find all the information you might need. I was a invited to attend the performance, but this has not affected my appreciation of the show in any way, and all opinions in this article are, as always, my own.