The event was at the Teatro Vico in Jumilla. Getting the tickets booked was a right faff because the box office was only open when I was at work. Jumilla is 35kms from home and they have no Internet presence. Then, to top it all, I kept confusing the performance on Friday with the performance on Saturday in my various messages. By the time I'd finished I reckon I could ask the bloke from the box office to be my best man should I ever get married - I'd have to ask by WhatsApp though.
Our seats were on the front row. Right at the front. Just the orchestra pit between us and the tight flamenco suits and frocks. To get to the seats we had to pass by a very severe looking older couple who seemed as unmovable as Joan Baez. As I squeezed past under their piercing stares the vision of me standing on her foot, stumbling and crashing into him flashed before my eyes. I made it to my seat without incident.
The couple did not move through the whole performance. No applause, almost no asides to each other. The man looked at his watch by grasping the casing with his right hand and staring intently at the time for at least thirty seconds. He was so obvious about it, he did it so often and he was so near the stage that the performers must have noticed him.
As usual the event started late. Spaniards call it courtesy time. It never seems very courteous to me to the people who turn up on time but I suppose that's my funny British sensibility. It wasn't late enough for a couple of people though. We got under way for the 9pm event at around 9.20 but some chap in the third or fourth row of the stalls turned up a few minutes afterwards. He didn't lower his voice at all as he and his partner discussed who should take which of the two seats assigned to them. The seats were at the aisle end of the row. He chose the more interior seat so, ten minutes later, when presumably his bladder betrayed him, there was another full volume conversation and quite a lot of noise as he headed for the toilet.
On row two, behind us there was a conversation that was perfectly audible above the music. The only part of it I caught though was about how and what one of the women was going to eat later. Maggie said that when a phone somewhere behind her rang the woman didn't hesitate to answer it or to have a perfectly normal conversation. All in all it was a very unsettled audience which is a bit unusual for flamenco.
Up on stage the flamenco wasn't bad at all. Four, I think, different acts doing their set. Singing, playing, dancing and even some poetry. It did seem to go on a long time though. The compeering was done by a chap who must have gone to great pains to choose his very light coloured suit. The trousers were long, the jacket was tight across his stomach but a bit big on the shoulders and the cuffs were palm covering. Later we had a cavalcade of local presidents of this association or society to hand out certificates and bottles of wine to the performers. Not one of them wore trousers that were not brushing the ground. One bloke, with a cardigan and flat cap looked like he'd come directly from his allotment. Another had a slightly grubby looking combination of black shoes, blue trousers, pink shirt and green jacket. Choosing that ensemble could not be pure chance.
All in all it was a very enjoyable event and not all of the fun was in the performances or even on the stage.