Saturday 26 September 2015

Task 32: Flamenco dancing in Seville, Spain

When my daughter Lucy was on her gap year ten years ago, she travelled round Europe for two months and became a bit of an expert on European cities. She admits now that her assessments may have been slightly biased by the quality of the youth hostels she stayed at. But one city that she took a special shine to was Seville. 'Oh Mum, Seville's totally wicked!!' she enthused at the time, 'You must go there!!!' 

Seville was duly added to our ongoing travel programme (Lucy was very convincing), but when push came to shove, it always seemed to lose out to another destination. And then back in April this year my hairdresser Emma happened to mention that she'd just returned from a flamenco festival in Seville. Her description of it made my eyes gleam - and Task 32 was on my sixtyat60 list in the time it took Emma to get her scissors out. 

At my 60th birthday lunch a few weeks later, I was handed a fat envelope by Jonathan and Liz. In the envelope were the booking details for a long weekend in Seville at a boutique hotel, together with tickets for a flamenco show and a note saying 'Enjoy working your way through the 60 at 60 challenge! Hopefully we can help you on the way.' I was very touched by their support - and goodness, what an amazingly fantastic present!
Andrew and I duly arrived in sunny Seville last Friday. The temperature was a sizzling 37 degrees and the sky was bluer than blue, as you can see in the photos below. We were staying in the old part of the city, where there are an abundance of quaint and quirky cobbled streets. Everywhere we went we could see evidence of flamenco - toy guitars, flouncy dresses, castonets, shawls and ornamental combs, not to mention men hovering around restaurant tables strumming guitars (one of Andrew's pet hates by the way)......yes, Seville clearly lives and breathes flamenco.  

We spent our first day sightseeing in the sunshine. We explored the third largest cathedral in the world, climbed up the Giralda tower, cooled down in the gardens of Real Alcazar Palace and had a tour round the Plaza de Toros (no bull- fighting that day I hasten to add). We also stopped for regular glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice.  


But the highlight of the weekend - and the focus of Task 32 of course - was the flamenco show on Saturday evening at Casa de la Guitarra.  We arrived at the venue to be greeted by the host of the show, who welcomed us all as if we were his personal guests. He ushered us into a small and intimate room, which contained a tiny stage, seating for about 50 people (each of us had our name marked out on a chair), and cases of rare antique guitars on the walls.

A guitarist kicked things off with a series of beautiful flamenco pieces, after which he was joined by a male singer who sang songs of despair in a curiously haunting cracked voice. And then the dancer 'La Yera' appeared on the stage. Wow......the power, the passion, the intensity, the speed of her tapping feet - she was astounding! The show felt completely authentic -it seemed clear that we were watching professionals at the top of their game - and we left La Casa an hour later in very high spirits. 

Having read my account so far, you may well be thinking this task was entirely about pleasure and fun, and it certainly was that. However, just a few days before our trip, Emma (my aforementioned hairdresser) decided to push me outside my comfort zone a little by daring me to have my photo taken in a flamenco dress while I was in Seville - and on hearing about this dare, Jonathan upped the ante by saying he wanted to see Andrew dressed as a flamenco dancer too. Oh noooo!!  During the weekend, this challenge did weigh on our minds a little. Then I had one of my mini brainwaves. We headed over to a busy touristy spot in the nearby Plaza de Espagna, took a deep breath, approached a young man, slipped him 3 euros, got our heads into position and subjected ourselves to 120 seconds of public humiliation and embarrassment in front of a gathering crowd of onlookers.  Did we achieve the dare? Well I like to think so! The things we do for good causes eh.

The above experience not withstanding, I whole-heartedly agree with Lucy's assessment of Seville - it is a totally wicked city!  Massive thanks and the biggest of hugs to Jonathan and Liz for a memorable 60th birthday present. Tiny tattoos next Liz....... 

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I'm doing the sixtyat60challenge to raise funds for Alzheimer's Research UK. For further information or to make a donation please visit my JustGiving page at  

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