“If you want to catch a parrot, build a cage”
I’m in Seville, hunting for my inner flamenco. I was expecting it to ooze from every plaza, with passion and music and dance surrounding me as soon as I stepped off the train. In stead I found a modern, business like station, where the trains arrived on time and there was clear signage to the orderly taxi queue.
The Spanish are night animals. I’m an early bird and arriving after a gin-fuelled night in Madrid meant flamenco-searching was reduced to a trip to Lidl and my Spotify playlist.
Day two, surely I’d find it today. A loose plan to familiarise myself with the city, join in with a siesta and hit the streets later nearly worked. I hadn’t got my meals in sync and I was famished by 8pm. Finding the only restaurant that was open I gave in and ate. The food was surprisingly good. The inauthentic serenading by the waiter’s cousins was not. But sometimes it pays to know what you’re not looking for.
Day three was built around going out late. I started with a late breakfast in a café near the giant mushrooms. Fabulous Spanish toast with coffee and a conversation about where to find flamenco, how you would stumble across it in a bar unannounced, how you could feel the passion and how it moved you. Yes! This was what I was after, perhaps it was real? Hitting the streets for tapas was the right thing to do. Dinner at home fuelled me to find some bars. I’m in Triana – the home of flamenco. it was going to be good. I gave myself a choice of two bars. The first one wasn’t open: still too early. I found bar 2 and lo and behold: guitars, clapping and the unique sound of cante flamenco. I approached with caution – apart from the performers, the bar was empty. I thought of it as my personal show. Gradually a couple more people entered the bar. I was offered the chance to dance. I remained purposefully in my seat. But there was dancing – somehow it matched the indistinct rhythm and helped to tell the story. But I’m not sure I understood it.
Day 4 and back to the parrot quote at the top of this post. Am I trying too hard? I’m giving up on the understanding and I’m trying to feel it. To let go of expectations and see what happens. I can enjoy the tourist show in Casa de la Memoria as much as the ad-hoc busking at the Puerta de Jerez interchange and the authentic gitana music in the bars of Triana.