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How far back can we trace the flamenco origin? This is actually a controversial question because experts don’t seem to agree.
Flamenco history is certainly not old. While some point out that its origins date much more ago, it’s commonly assumed that flamenco arise some 200 years ago.
Flamenco art is the result of a melting pot based on the many music styles that have evolved in Andalucía and have been transmitted generation after generation. These styles include Jewish, Arab, Castillian, old Andalusian and, of course, gypsy music.
Obviously, gypsies were the most important influencers on the Andalusian folklore base. They arrived to Spain at the beginning of the 15th century although flamenco wasn’t associated with regional singing and dancing until the 19th century.
At that time, gypsy settlements started blossoming relatively fast around Seville, Granada, Jerez, Cádiz and other towns (e.g. Utrera). Gypsies were usually employed as seasonal workers in the countryside and they often gathered after a long day in the fields. During their parties, they sang and danced. Actually, they still do.
Up until then, flamenco was only performed privately. However, over this period it was highly disseminated and became quite popular. As a matter of fact, flamenco dancing was also acclaimed and very much appreciated.
The main reason behind such a spectacular diffusion was the creation of the cafés cantantes. Here, food and drinks were served while flamenco was performed as a clients’ entertainment. Seville and Cádiz were the forerunners but other capitals such as Madrid or even Barcelona were soon full of these cafes.
It was the first time that people was willing to pay for the performances. As a result, competition rose dramatically and schools were created to improve the cante, the baile and the guitar playing. Flamenco was not an amateur art but rather professional instead.
Discover the historical beauty of Seville on a small-group panoramic sightseeing tour. Join your English speaking guide and wander around the beautiful and romantic cobbled streets of the old town. It’s the perfect introduction for your trip.
End your walking tour in one of the oldest flamenco venues in Seville to attend a private performance. Sample a couple of glasses of the finest wines of the region, or try some delicious tapas while you watch a unique spectacle.
This period is known as opera flamenca because at the time lower taxes were offered to opera performances. Consequently, the cafés cantantes were little by little replaced by larger venues. At the same time, flamenco‘s popularity soared and many tours were held in bullrings all over Spain.
Experts consider this period to be disastrous. Pure singing was rejected, the taste for the authentic was lost and only superficial performances were appreciated. Traditionalists claim that flamenco almost disappeared during that period.
In the 1950s, flamenco starts to be considered an art and valued accordingly. It reached the general public without loosing its essence thanks to open-air music festivals.
With the massive arrival of visitors from other parts of Europe and the world, the tablaos spread almost everywhere. They became the modern version of the cafés cantantes and they currently contribute to flamenco‘s fame abroad.
In the 1970s the flamenco fusion was born, opposed to the flamenco puro. The influence of other musical styles (jazz, rock, samba, blues and many more) was in vogue.
Nowadays, the classic trend coexist with other less purist styles where performers use the compas of certain traditional palos with other rhythms and lyrics.
Founded in 1966, Los Gallos is one of Seville’s oldest tablaos and perhaps one of the best settings: a renovated historic home in the Plaza de Santa Cruz. The venue is small and elegant, and puts to use the rustic and traditional architecture of the original building as a backdrop for traditional flamenco performances. In addition to this, the establishment remains family owned.
It has been in the flamenco elite thanks to the outstanding artists that night after night make you enjoy a great show of singing, dancing and flamenco guitar. You will always remember that night!