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Flamenco in Madrid

When I went to Madrid the one performance related thing I really wanted to do was see a Flamenco show. I knew that Flamenco had something to do with dancing and music, but in what specific regard I wasn’t sure. When researching my trip I found a local company (OGO Tours) that does a Flamenco tour, and I knew it was something I had to do. Here is what I learned about Flamenco in Madrid.


It is a hot and busy Saturday afternoon in Puerta del Sol as I wait for my Origins of Flamenco Tour to begin. My tour guide Tatiana was a lovely and joyful young woman lead the tour. Tatiana is originally from Russia, and her husband Javier is from Spain, and they began OGO Tours two years ago. While their tours (that also include a free walking tour and a food tour) have grown in popularity, I luck out (like my previous tour in Madrid) and end up being the only one on my Flamenco tour. Tatiana is bright and passionate and has an enthusiasm for Madrid that is infectious. This city has a great energy to it that I have come to love, and while we make our way to our first stop she tells me about different restaurants to check out, and foods to try, and about the upcoming holiday in the city. She tells me a little but about Flamenco but says saving the history portion for when we have a drink at the bar.

The Guitar

Our first stop Guitarrería Mariano Conde to learn more about the guitars that are used in Flamenco. This is a family run shop where all the guitars are handcrafted and have been for a hundred years. We walk in and I am assuaged with a sweet, earthy scent that’s completely unfamiliar to me, but I love it.

Guitarrería Mariano Conde in Madrid, Spain

Mariano Conde is the third generation of his family to work here. Mariano is using a tool to smooth and sand down one of the pieces of the guitar. It’s just him, his son Mariano Jr, and two other workers who make all the guitars in this shop.

Downstairs at the workshop there are tools on the wall, sawdust on the table, and guitars in various stages of production. That sweet smelling wood I learn is Cyprus wood, which is most often used to make Flamenco guitars. Spanish style guitars use Rosewood. There are a lot of factors that go into making the guitar, but one thing I was not aware of until this tour is that the wood used to make a guitar is dried beforehand and the drier the wood the better the guitar will be. If you were to buy a guitar from a mass-produced factory, the wood used for a guitar would be dried for a couple of years. This seems impressive until you find out the wood for the guitars at Guitarrería Mariano Conde are dried for about 30 years.

Guitars at Guitarrería in Madrid, Spain

The work and detail that goes into these guitars are amazing. All the guitars have a signature design at the head of the guitar, a beautiful M shape to show they were made by hand at Guitarrería Mariano Conde.

Guitars here are popular with some of the biggest Flamenco guitarists, and indeed even with contemporary musicians. Apparently Ed Sheeran had purchased a handcrafted guitar from Guitarrería Mariano Conde. If you have €3000, you can be the proud owner of one of these beautiful guitars.

The Wardrobe

Music is one component of Flamenco, but there is also the dress and the dance itself. To learn more about that we made our way to a Flamenco dress store, which has everything a Flamenco performer could want. Only one type of Flamenco dress has a tail. Some dancers will use a fan and other may use castanets, which are little handheld wooden percussion instruments. Women will often wear flowers in their hair. While the women have beautiful and elaborate dresses, the men usually wear a regular suit in a Flamenco dance. Occasionally for festivals men will wear a shorter suit.

Flamenco Dresses in Madrid, Spain

This dresses here are the real deal and can go for hundreds of Euros. Some are made of silk and weigh up to 4 kg.

An important part of the Flamenco dancer’s ensemble is the shoes. I am surprised to learn that the men’s and women’s shoes have a heel, but Tatiana says the reason for this will become apparent in the show. There are flat nails at the bottom of the shoes. In the Flamenco dance, there is a lot of stopping and percussion rhythm, which is propelled by these unique shoes.

The History

Next over drinks and tapas at a bar Tatiana brings out her tablet that is filled with photos, movies, and songs of the history of Flamenco. This history is not easy to condense – it literally spans thousands of years. Flamenco owes its roots to many different cultures Byzantines, Moors, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Gypsies, Romans, Phoenicians, Greeks, etc. Each brought their own cultural influence to Flamenco. The gypsies were instrumental in shaping Flamenco to what it is today. The earliest gypsies came to Spain as far back as 600 AD because they had been persecuted in other regions. They brought a sorrowful singing to Flamenco, something you still hear today. This is because they were singing about their hardships and persecutions.

It becomes apparent that is not one specific moment in history where you say definitively that “this was when Flamenco started.” To further complicate things there isn’t an absolute definition of what Flamenco is. This style of music and dance has evolved over the years, and from place to place. The Flamenco show here in Madrid may be very different from one in another region of the country.

The Show

Flamenco is about music, dance, story, traditions, culture, and history. It is a combination of a lot of things, but before seeing the Flamenco show at Tablao Flamenco Villa Rosa Tatiana tells me that most importantly Flamenco is a feeling. My seat at Tablao Flamenco Villa Rosa is front and center, and I’m inches from the stage. I have a glass of wine and four performers come out, a female dancer, two male dancers, and male guitar player. Like most live performances photography and recording is not allowed during the show.

Flamenco at Villa Rosa in Madrid, Spain

The stage before the Flamenco show at Tablao Flamenco Villa Rosa in Madrid.

The show itself is fascinating. I am close enough to see the scuffs on the wood floor as the dancers move feverishly. As the female dancer twirls her skirt I can practically touch it. There is sound, fury, and a sea of red. The first ten minutes I can only focus on the dancers’ feet, how they twist and turn on a dime. The songs go from high energy to a passionate wailing. It’s loud, noisy and wonderful. The dancers respond in time, stomping their feet, writhing their bodies, twisting their hands, clapping. With my limited Spanish I don’t understand what they’re singing, but I am starting to understand that feeling of Flamenco Tatiana alluded to earlier, and I love it.


Below is a map of Tablao Flamenco Villa Rosa (where I saw the flamenco show), but I visited other great places on this tour as well.

Note: Ogo Tours was kind enough to give me a complimentary ticket to this tour, but all opinions within this post are my own. I loved this tour, and I would highly recommend it for anyone visiting Madrid.

Have you seen a Flamenco show in Spain?

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9 Responses to Flamenco in Madrid

  1. John January 17, 2016 at 3:56 AM #

    This sounds like a such a great walking tour – taking you through the history of the Flamenco culture. I really like the sound of it!

    Did you have a go yourself?

    • Alouise January 27, 2016 at 10:59 AM #

      John the tour was great. Lots of neat information and it gives you a nice context for when you see the show. I didn’t get up and dance…I’ll leave that to the professionals 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  2. Sarah Ebner January 17, 2016 at 4:00 AM #

    I’ve never seen a Flamenco show in Spain, but it sounds like the most perfect thing to do while there! Having read your post, it appeals even more now, with the dancing, but also that mixture of culture and tradition and history too.

  3. Svet Dimitrov January 17, 2016 at 4:54 AM #

    Wow, Flamenco culture looks so energetic, colourful, different, gorgeous. Especially the dresses – they are just divine..

    Amazing!

  4. Trevor Thorpe January 17, 2016 at 10:03 AM #

    Definitely added to our list of things to do in Spain! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Aimee January 17, 2016 at 1:01 PM #

    Your photos are great – so bright & colourful! Looks like a great tour 🙂

  6. Vicki January 18, 2016 at 2:42 AM #

    What a fantastic tour – I’ve spent some time in Spain (visiting my parents) but have never seen anything like this. In fact the only time I’ve seen flamenco dancers was in Chile! The colour, culture and history of the dance are amazing. Great post!
    Happy Travels 🙂

    -Vicki
    http://www.maketimetoseetheworld.com

  7. mark January 19, 2016 at 2:46 AM #

    looks like a great little tour. Even better if u were by yourself you get the more personalized touch. We will be heading to Madrid later this year cant wait

  8. Mary @ Green Global Travel February 2, 2016 at 4:28 PM #

    Madrid is definitely the perfect place for a flamenco tour since it is synonymous with Spain. Great info about the important aspects of flamenco.

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