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Flamenco in Cádiz: to the rhythm of soleás and bulerías

An epicentre of flamenco, key to its birth and development, Cádiz attracts visitors from all over the world who come to the region captivated by the legend of flamenco, its colourful spectacle and dramatic stage presence. Exploring the region by means of the impassioned Flamenco Routes is another way to discover the art form, set to the rhythm of soleás and bulerías.

The cradle of great performers such as Lola Flores, Rocío Jurado, Camarón de la Isla, Paco de Lucía, José Mercé, Sara Baras and many more, Cádiz dazzles thanks to having been touched by the ineffable spirit of flamenco. Peñas, lively neighbourhood clubs, tablaos, distinguished venues offering programmed concerts, and spontaneous performances in the streets are a permanent surprise. Fairs and festivals take place one after the other all throughout the year and are a great way to discover new talents and to celebrate an art form that is so embedded in Andalusian culture.

Flamenco in Cádiz: peñas and tablaos

To speak about flamenco in Cádiz is to traverse an extensive region with magnificent settings. El Puerto de Santa María, Puerto Real, San Fernando, Chiclana and Jerez de la Frontera are the places that inquisitive aficionados must visit. If staying in Cádiz city, we recommend heading to any of its tablaos and peñas, which stay open until the early hours. There’s no better plan than enjoying some cante jondo (flamenco’s most profound type of vocal style) whilst savouring some good food and wine.

We recommend losing yourself amid its streets and allowing your intuition—and the local people—to guide you. The Cádiz-born poet Rafael Alberti referred to the search for ‘cante jondo spots’ in his memoirs, those ‘hidden taverns’ that are found all over Cádiz. To save yourself the effort of finding them, head to the Peña Flamenca Juanito Villar, for example, an authentic Cádiz restaurant with live flamenco. Situated on the edge of La Caleta beach, it is often frequented by locals who come looking for flamenco’s latest young promises.

 

 

La Cava: a meeting place in Cádiz

Worth a special mention is La Cava, one of the most famous tablaos in the city, situated in the city centre in a former theatre dating from the twelfth century. All types of people, locals and outsiders, descend on the venue to sample its food. Meanwhile, the stage plays host to live performances. Its decoration, consisting of over 150 original photographs, particularly grabs the attention. The images depict some of the most prominent figures in the history of flamenco over the last 50 years.

Other places, which are less tourist-oriented and traditional, where you can enjoy a flamenco performance, among other musical offerings, include Café Teatro Pay Pay, in the Bay of Cádiz, and Cambalache, where flamenco lives happily alongside jazz.

Flamenco in Jerez

The heart of Cádiz’s flamenco scene is without a doubt in Jerez de la Frontera, a town steeped in a special ambience, where you can sense the intimate emotion and strength that emanates from this expression of popular Andalusian culture. In the neighbourhood of Santiago—the most authentic together with San Miguel—is the Centro Andaluz del Flamenco. Situated in the eighteenth-century Pemartín Palace, its facilities are equipped with modern digital technology that allows you to delve into the key aspects of flamenco. Of particular note is its specialised library and important music library.

Two of the most noteworthy routes through the land of flamenco, devised by the Regional Government of Andalusia, pass through Jerez. The Route of the 3/4 Rhythm centres on the basic songs and on soleá and bulería, two different forms of flamenco. Meanwhile, the Route of the Bajañí, as guitars are referred to in Spanish caló, introduces you to the origins and history of the instrument.

Flamenco fiestas and tablaos in Jerez

Jerez de la Frontera is known as being one of the cities that has supplied the finest singers, dancers and guitarists in Andalusia throughout the history of flamenco. It is home to performers such as Lola Flores, Manuel Morao, José Mercé and Paquera de Jerez. Cante jondo recitals fill up the vibrant programmes of the numerous peñas distributed among various neighbourhoods.

Fans of flamenco also come here to enjoy two must-see events: the traditional Bulería Festival, which takes place in September, and the Jerez International Festival, which takes place in February and March. The most popular tablaos include Tablao Flamenco Puro Arte, situated close to the bullring; Peña Flamenca La Bulería, Tablao Flamenco Calé and Tabanco El Pasaje, which was once a wine shop.

In the footsteps of Camarón de la Isla

Cádiz is full of famous names and memories from the past that never die. There’s no shortage of flamenco addicts who come to the province to visit the places in which Camarón de la Isla, the stage name of José Monge Cruz, developed his life and career. The route begins in San Fernando, his birthplace, on Calle del Carmen. A statue in his honour, by the sculptor Antonio Mota, pays tribute to the Romani singer, and a flamenco peña bears the name of the man who, in the year 2000, posthumously received the Llave de Oro del Cante, a historical flamenco prize.

One must-visit place along the Camarón Route is Venta de Vargas, where he first made himself known as a young boy. There you can find photographs of the performer’s life and it continues to offer programmed flamenco performances. Camarón is buried in a tomb, designed by Manuel Correa and Alfonso Berraquero, at a local cemetery.

The memory of Paco de Lucía

Cádiz also has a place in its heart for Paco de Lucía, whose steps you can trace in many parts of the region. On Plaza del Ayuntamiento in Algeciras, where he was born, he is remembered by means of a statue. The conservatory also bears his name and, on the outskirts of the town, is the country house of La Almoraima, where he was inspired to compose one of his most beautiful bulerías.

Fans of the artist can follow his footsteps all the way to San Fernando, where he met with Camarón, his artistic collaborator for some time. In Jerez de la Frontera, in establishments such as Bar Arco de Santiago, the meeting place of the guitar and singing maestros, he is still remembered today. The route finally comes to an end in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, at Bodegón A Contratiempo, another space that hosts the finest guitarists and singers in the province.

 

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