THE DANCING BEGINS
THE DANCING BEGINS
We are on our way to a flamenco feast at Restaurant Traviesa. It sits high upon a cliff in the Casco Antigo of Salobrena, with a panoramic view across the valley towards Sierra Nevada, still all white in mid May. The bar and the kitchen are actually inside a cave, while the guests sit outside, enjoying the spectacular vista. The sun is disappearing behind the mountains. Soon it will be dark. The candles are lit, casting flickering shadows over the romantic surroundings. The waiter is happy to serve, bringing wine and delicious food from Susanna´s kitchen to the crowd waiting for the show to begin. The guitarist is already here. He looks as if he was born with this instrument in his hands. Music runs in his family – most likely it was daddy who helped him with his first grips. The guitar rests in his lap, his fingers caressing the strings like a sensitive lover. A promising beginning. Who would have imagined that those ordinary girls – the flamenco dancer and the singer – could be so profoundly transformed? One hardly noticed them on arrival, small of stature, reserved, almost shy, in their blue jeans and tee-shirts. They reminded me of schoolgirls, who were hesitatingly daring to enter a bar for the first time. But when they descend from the restroom, they are almost unrecognizable. Red lips glowing, hair set up in a swinging tail, eyebrows painted pit black. Both are dressed in a vivid touch of red – “el color del amor”. Their blouses are tight around their shoulders and bosoms. The wide skirts flicker around their ankles like a joyful waterfall. Their bearing is now suddenly distant and haughty. Their eyes are fixed on something far away, invisible to the rest of us, in an aggressive and challenging manner.
They are as if they have descended from another world, untouchable, commanding – but seductive. They stamp with their feet, whining and swinging like mares in heat – ready for everything.
The dancing begins. The throaty female voice is the leader, the guitarist follows closely and the dancer is the interpreter. The story of the Gypsies is encapsulated in the anguished voice of the singer and the passionate expression of the dancer. It is a story of misery, poverty, cruelty, anger, hatred – and injustice.
But isn´t it also a story about love? True – but mainly about jealousy, betrayal and revenge. Life is without mercy. The flamenco is also without mercy, so violent, painful and uncontrolable. One feels afraid, enfeebled, overwhelmed. I don´t know if I am crying from sympathy or shame.
I feel exhausted – but at the same time wholly satisfied. This is all so beautiful – in spite of the ugliness.
” The young dancer is still in full force. She insists to go on challenging us, proud and temperamental, ferocious in her demeanor “
I feel as if I had witnessed a volcanic eruption or an earthquake, enforcing its way up from deep down. Then suddenly total silence. No one utters a word. Everyone is as if carried away, engrossed in his or her own thoughts. The flamenco show is over. The candles are burnt out. It´s time to leave. The girls are back in the blue jeans. Again, just ordinary girls, having a bite at the bar with the guitarist, before heading back home. The Casco Antiguo has fallen asleep, when we walk along the narrow streets. The sweet smell of spring flowers tickles our nostrils as the declining moon guides us on our way.
” The Casco Antiguo has fallen asleep, when we walk along the narrow streets. The sweet smell of spring flowers tickles our nostrils as the declining moon guides us on our way “