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Photo by Andrea Baducci

In caves and lairs around Granada, Flamenco still thrives in its natural habitat.

With roots in the melodies and rhythms of outcast Gypsies, Jews, and Muslims, flamenco is one of Spain’s defining traditions. Madrid may play host to the big names in the business, but Granada – where the Sacromonte caves lay claim to the music’s origins – has a different kind of flamenco community,

Bypass the dozens of tourist tablaos in Sacromonte and head straight to the following bars and clubs where locals, students, aficionados, and most importantly, flamencos themselves can be found taking in a late-night show.

1. Eshavira Club

Only a name painted on a white wall tells you which dark alley to turn down. The place is a smoky vault of underground chambers, age-old posters of flamenco legends gone by, and fiendishly hot line-ups of musicians and dancers.

The program can be a bit erratic. Unless they advertise a concert, assume you will just have to turn up and hope for the best. They do however keep a closely guarded canon of artists, many of whom spring from the great flamenco families of Granada, and also regularly showcase flamenco fusion.

This above any other joint in town is where you’ll rub shoulders with the real deal.

Postigo de la Cuna, 2 (turn left off Calle Elvira), tel. 958 29 41 25

Program varies, flamenco shows most Sunday nights, entry €8

2. Peña Flamenca La Platería

It seems almost sacrilegious to give second billing to the oldest flamenco club in Spain. Inaugurated in 1949, the Peña was the first of its kind, a place run by flamenco aficionados with the aim of supporting and nurturing the art rather than making money.

The Peña only throws open its doors on Thursday nights, for an astonishingly reasonable €8 including a bottle of local tipple Manzanilla. The performers are hand-picked from the finest resident or visiting artists, and the show is definitely more serious spectacle than underground fiesta.

Placeta de Toqueros, 7, tel. 958 210 650 (bar), 958 227 712 (office)

Thursday nights only, entry €8

3. Huerto del Loro

Across the Darro river, in the shadow of the Alhambra, Huerto del Loro’s out of the way location makes it less hit by tourists. It’s one of the cheaper flamenco clubs as well. (Remember that a cheaper cover doesn’t mean a weaker line-up – in fact the opposite: no self-respecting local is going to pay through the nose for a flamenco package deal when they can spend €8 to see the same artists here in a more relaxed environment).

The vaulted theatre is a dingy but warmly lit cave, with a simple lilac flamenco shawl as its backdrop. With a regular program of artists in rotation, some of the best include the seductively named Caramela la Chocolata, and local favorite Pilar Fajardo.

[Update: Huerto del Loro no longer operates. Its artists now perform at El Tabanaco.]

4. Upsetter

The central location means that this narrow whitewashed cave can sometimes get a bit touristy – and the performances tend to sag a little when there are more flashbulbs popping than audience encouragement. Still, Upsetter plays host to some phenomenal resident performers, including Sergio ‘El Colorao’, who last year won the soleá prize at the prestigious annual flamenco festival in La Union, Murcia.

Monday nights are a must for the raucous combination of guitar-fiend Jorge ‘El Pisao’ and young-at-heart veteran cantaor, El Niño de las Almendras, both of whom attract a crowd of local artists to cheer them on.

For those wanting some rub-a-dub styley, Upsetter hosts Reggae nights directly after flamenco.

Carrera del Darro, 7

Flamenco Shows every night (except Tuesdays), entry €12

5. Raíz y Duende at Sala Vimaambi

Sala Vimaambi is for those who like their flamenco with a bit of David Lynch. Multimedia projections of leaves floating past the Alhambra, contemporary style movement pieces, and poetry from a formidable throaty-voiced compere named Maam.

For all its weirdness however, the experimental band has a fantastic singer in José Fernández Heredia, plus the talents of dancer Sara Jiménez. They also have a flautist who might, if you are very lucky, chuck a bit of David Bowie into the bulería. Tapas and a drink included with the price of entry.

Sala Vimaambi, Cuesta de San Gregorio, 30, tel. 958 227 334

Flamenco Shows Friday & Saturday night, entry €15

6. Teatro Alhambra

Coincide your visit with the annual Viene del Sur festival which takes place from January to May, and you will be in for a treat. Funded by the Andalusian government as a means of injecting money and support into home-grown flamenco, the festival has some of the biggest names in Andalusia (and Spain) performing on a tour of the region’s main cities.

In Granada, the programme takes place in this bright modern glass fronted theatre, in the residential Realejo district. The 2008 festival kicked off on January 28th with Merche Esmerelda, Belén Maya and Rocío Molina’s piece, Mujeres – now on tour to Sadler’s Wells. The final concert will feature Sevillian dance maestro Javier Barón and takes place on 19th May.

Molinos 56, tel. 958 028 000

Viene del Sur tickets €14

7. Soniquete, Peña Flamenca

Opened only two months ago, this discreet bar is through a dark wooden door cut into a larger set of dark wood gates, which go unnoticed when not manned in the evenings. The peña itself has few charms – except that its cornflower blue interior makes you feel like you’re in an Almodóvar film.

The resident Luis Córdoba group plays every Friday and Saturday. Bailaora Almudena Romero, a dancer since the age of 5, has the power to leave her audience scraping their jaws up off the floor night after night – run and hide before the finale because she likes to make her adoring public dance with her.

Carrera del Darro, 51 (follow the Darro river towards Paseo de los Tristes)

Flamenco Shows Friday & Saturday, entry €10

8. Tablao Albayzín

Most guide books would these days probably warn you off going to a tablao, their reputation sullied by overpriced shows and overworked performers. Not so for Tablao Albayzín – it’s on good authority from both artists and locals that this cosy cave perched near the Mirador de San Cristóbal always puts on a cracking show.

At €28 the entry fee is high however, so it would be worth checking with the locals that there’s a good name on before you roll up.

Mirador de San Cristóbal, tel. 958 80 46 46

Flamenco shows every night, entry €28 includes walking tour of the Albaicín and first drink.

La Tertulia tends to attract a hip young crowd of locals which means that when there is a show, the spontaneous audience cameos are fantastic.
9. La Tertulia

This bohemian haunt hosts a variety of music and theatre nights. La Tertulia tends to attract a hip young crowd of locals which means that when there is a show, the spontaneous audience cameos are fantastic. Especially good when Grupo de José Candela is performing.

Calle Pintor López Mezquita, 3, tel. 958 223 879

Varying schedule of flamenco shows, entry varies, from €3

10. Café Elvira

Ask an authority on flamenco and they’ll tell you that it can’t be bought, only found. If you want to witness a bulería in its purest form but don’t have time to sit around waiting to be invited to a gypsy wedding, head to Café Elvira where it’s likely that the locals will be whipping up a ramshackle zambra.

They don’t put on official concerts, however the bar is a firm favourite of musicians, hippies, and artists who love to make their own spontaneous spectacles. Be warned, it’s also beloved by Granada’s large hash-smoking community.

Calle Elvira, 85

No official shows, entry free (free tapas with all drinks)

Clubs


 

About The Author

Lucy Ribchester

Lucy Ribchester is a freelance writer currently living in Barcelona, Spain. She has written about dance, theatre, music, and food, and contributed to various publications including Andalucian fortnightly newspaper, The Olive Press, and the Guardian Unlimited’s travel section.

  • Laura

    Gracias Lucy por tu articulo! Es muy rico y disfrute mucho de estar por un ratito en Granada…Me dio alegria y penita leerlo, senti mucha nostalgia por los dias que pase en Granada. Verde que te quiero verde…
    Saludos!!
    Laura

  • Dave

    Great blog, Lucy. We love watching flamenco in Granada with our friends, but you've given us the locations of a couple we didn't know about. We'll definitely check them out. Thanks

  • Dave

    I just posted a comment here but it seemed to disappear into cyberspace… I want to say that this is a great post, Lucy, and apologise in advance if this comment is duplicated.

    We love watching flamenco in Granada but you've included a couple of venues here that we didn't know about. We'll definitely check them out.

    Thanks

  • Laura

    Gracias Lucy por tu articulo! Es muy rico y disfrute mucho de estar por un ratito en Granada…Me dio alegria y penita leerlo, senti mucha nostalgia por los dias que pase en Granada. Verde que te quiero verde…
    Saludos!!
    Laura

  • http://www.bed-and-breakfast-granada.com/bed-breakfast-Granada-blog.html Dave

    Great blog, Lucy. We love watching flamenco in Granada with our friends, but you’ve given us the locations of a couple we didn’t know about. We’ll definitely check them out. Thanks

  • http://www.bed-and-breakfast-granada.com/bed-breakfast-Granada-blog.html Dave

    I just posted a comment here but it seemed to disappear into cyberspace… I want to say that this is a great post, Lucy, and apologise in advance if this comment is duplicated.

    We love watching flamenco in Granada but you’ve included a couple of venues here that we didn’t know about. We’ll definitely check them out.

    Thanks

  • Ben

    This is a great list. I just emailed it to friends who are traveling in Spain right now. Thanks!

  • Ben

    This is a great writer up. I just send it to some friends traveling in Spain. Thanks!

  • Anna

    Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately Huerto del Loro is closed (we tried to go and the building is for sale), and the Upsetter also closed, but has changed names and ownership. It still looks like a happening place, but I’m not sure of the line-up.

  • konna

    I WANT TO LEARN EVERYTHING ABOUT FLAMENCO DANCE

  • Eddie V

    Sala Principe is full of young, unclassy, snotty kids who  think that with a bit of money they can look good. I would avoid this place at all costs. There is nothing authentic about it, especially not in the flamenco field!

    Eddie V

  • Chocolata Contratacion

    Huerto del Loro has changed the telephone number!!! Now you have to call to 662 13 70 46

    • Eltabanco

       Oleeee !!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    En contestación a la noticia que Usted publicó sobre el espectáculo flamenco del Taller de Arte Vimaambi:
    “American friends of mine recenty went to Vimaambi and were very disappointed, a horror show, expensive and amateur! Likewise they were not impressed with Tablao Albaicin. ”

    queremos ofrecerle testimonios de espectadores que si disfrutaron mucho de nuestro espectáculo que no es ni caro ni amateur, sino a un precio muy razonable para un cuadro con 7 artistas que llevan muchos años, incluso los mas jóvenes, ganándose la vida como profesionales. Quizás son sus amigos americanos que no saben muy bien donde esta la calidad y la autenticidad del arte flamenco.
    Un saludo, Vimaambi.

    Dear Sir,
    it was Friday, 19.06.09, and we – me and my wife – were in Granada. It was our last day, and we wanted to go for a Flamenco-Event in the evening. And what did we find? Taller De Arte/Sala Vimaambi!
    Let me express what a great evening it was: Never at all the Flamenco-Performances I saw there was such an exiting, impressing and moving to tears show. It was simply wonderful and marvelous.
    Especially your flamenca Victoria was due to my tears. She will be some day a very great bailaora because she has – inspite of her seventeen years – already all the abilities which a flamenca needs. Her compás, her talented dancing and her excellent footwork – amazing!
    I would like to ask you for greating your jewel Victoria from the german couple which sat in the first row during her performance – it was only great! And an other request: please look after her.
    If I were a concert-agent or -manager I would invite you all with your RAÍZ Y DUENDE to Germa- ny for some twenty shows all over the country. Unfortunately I am not…
    But when we will be in Granada next time we will visit you and your group. We are looking forward to meet you and all the members of your company – especially Victoria…
    All the best for you all.
    Yours sincerely.
    Roland Bauer. Alemania

    Estimado Señor,
    era viernes, 19 de junio de 2009, y mi mujer y yo estábamos en Granada. Era nuestro ultimo día y queríamos ver un espectáculo flamenco por la tarde. ¿Y que encontramos? ¡Taller de Arte/Sala Vimaambi!
    Dejadme expresar lo grande que fue la tarde: nunca he visto un espectáculo flamenco tan excitante, impresionante y emocionante. Fue sencillamente fantástico y maravilloso.
    Especialmente su flamenca Victoria que me hizo llorar. Será algún día una muy grande bailaora porque tiene ya – a pesar de sus 17 años- todas las habilidades que necesita una flamenca; su compás, su talento bailando y su excelente juego de pies… ¡Sorprendente!

    Quiero que felicite su joya Victoria de parte de la pareja alemana sentada en el primer banco durante su actuación – ¡Fue tan solo grandioso!
    Por favor, cuidadla la bien. Si fuera un agente os invitara a todos con vuestro “Raíz y Duende” a Alemania para unos 20 concierto a lo largo del país. Desgraciadamente no lo soy…

    Pero cuando volvamos a Granada os visitaremos de nuevo. Miramos hacia atrás para encontraros, a todos los miembros de su compañía – especialmente Victoria.

    Todo lo mejor para todos vosotros.
    Vuestro, sinceramente,
    Roland Bauer. Alemania

    OTRA OPINION
    Muy Sres mios, les escribo para felicitarles por el excelente espectáculo.
    que nos ofrecieron el pasado sábado día 5 de febrero, es una pena que tan.
    espectacular obra no tenga mas difusión y no se les conozca un poco mejor, pues la.
    verdad mis padres, mi Sra, y yo mismo salimos embrujados con tanto arte, solo me.
    queda felicitarles nuevamente y darles animo a seguir con este grandisimo.
    espectáculo que antes o después, no les quepa duda triunfara. Un cordial saludo y felicidades a todos esos “peazos” de artistas.
    Felipe Rueda. Sevilla

    OTRA OPINION
    Su espectáculo Flamenco anoche fue verdaderamente increible. Ustedes si saben los que es Duende. Si volvemos a Granada los primero que haremos es buscarlos para presenciar otra noche. Nos arrebataron el aliento. Las Aragones. Washington

  • Anonymous

    I think the comment from Kate(Katrina Edbrooke) just want to discredit, the young flamenco performers of Granada , because her association ( Fabrica del Flamenco) only support the veterans or famous performers of the city. The shows offered in Vimaambi and Tablao Albayzin are a quality shows, that mix experience and young talent, differents instruments, and others elements, that give you, another point of view of the flamenco.

    • Katrina Edbrooke

      Far from it. I support all the flamenco artists and venues in Granada. I have asked for my comment to be removed as I foolishly quoted what some-one else had said to me. Since then I have been to many shows at Vimaambi, flamenco, jazz, gospel and enjoyed them very much. I have apologised to those concerned for my post and hopefully the administrator here will respond to my request to remove it.

  • Monica Lozano Ferraro

    Has anyone seen JUNCAL Street: Fanny Ara? She’s coming to San Diego on April 20th at C3 Performing Arts Center. Danzarts.org

  • GranadaEsFlamenco

    Not all of them are open now and there are some more… all about flamenco in Granada at: http://www.granadaesflamenco.com.

    Enjoy flamenco in Granada all year round.

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