Granada’s Gypsy Flamenco

Too. Cool.
First of all, the location was already incredible. We made a long trek up a mountain to get to the caves where the Gitanos live, and on the hike up there we had stunning views of the Alhambra and the city of Granada below. When we finally arrived, there were groups of Gypsies lounging outside of the cave dwellings, strumming their guitars and smoking their cigarrillos, no doubt preparing for their performances. They all had tan skin with long, dark hair, just as I had imagined. The “caves” actually have smooth, white walls, but they are called caves because these rooms have been carved into the side of the mountain. We all crammed into this long, skinny room, and the excitement in the air was palpable.
Descending into the Gitano's lair....Decór of choice: pots & framed pictures
Crammed like sardines. Fire hazard?Dance floor. Used and abused.

A few men came in and started to prepare for the music. I think the person with the most difficult job is actually the singer (“cantaor”). He has to strain his voice and form what sounds like an anguished wail as he sings, since Flamenco was primarily used to express mourning for a lost love or loved one, like a lament. Even though his expression looks pained, he’s able to produce a very smoky and rich sound that mixes with the anguish to create an incredible tone. This tone then joins with the guitar to accompany the movements of the dancer. Singers also contribute to the beat of the music by clapping their hands and tapping their feet. It’s all very mystical. While watching the performance, you get really caught up with the music and movements.

Spanish flairLots o' Gypsies! :)

Then, towards the end they started performing celebratory songs, like for a wedding of some sort. It was much more upbeat and fast-paced; you could definitely tell it was for a happy occasion.

Video 1: Not that much Flamenco dancing going on (lots of fan-waving), but this is a great clip if you want to hear the voice of the cantaor.

Video 2: Lots of quick-moving footwork and you can hear the clapping really well in this. Can you identify the 12-count beat of Flamenco?

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