We were in the Gods sitting on hard wooden steps, fortunately with plenty of squirming room, in one of those brilliant ornate wood and gilt theatres. The fat man next to us was very cross with the talking woman at the front; "ssshhhhh!". This was after nearly three hours of Flamenco. The man must be a fundamentalist - mind you a chap on our other side had risen to his feet, clapping and shouting olé, olé, olé after a guitarist had done his stuff just a few minutes before. Maybe we were the only non believers left at that point. Throughout the evening, lots of people amongst the audience had drifted away never to return.
If you think Flamenco is lots of big dresses, arms in the air, clicking castanets and stamping you'd be sort of right. But real Flamenco, the stuff that old men talk about over a few sherries down in Andalucia, is called Cante Jondo. This is the "emotional" Flamenco. It is performed by an oldish man with a slightly too tight, shiny suit and an open necked shirt who sits on a plain chair, claps his hands or snaps his fingers every now and then but who mainly wails out a song with a pained expression on his face. He is usually accompanied by a guitarist. Each song starts like this; "aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee". The first time I heard any I left after about two songs much to the disgust of the Andalucian audience. Nowadays I occasionally buy Flamenco CDs.
Maggie and I went to the 13th Annual Flamenco competition organised by the City of Jumilla. After several local heats there were six singers and two guitarists in the final round, nearly all Andalucians. There was a woman singer too, she wore a flouncy dress rather than a tight, shiny suit. The prize was 6,000€. The competition was in a local theatre, it started at 9.15pm and the singing etc were just over when we cleared off at about 12.10am. We didn't stay to find out who won but I did enjoy myself and I'd definitely do it again. Though next time I would take a cushion, some sweets and maybe a hip flask.