‘Slowly but surely, flamenco is disappearing from Spain’

The corona crisis makes short work of Spanish flamenco. Due to all the rules in the country, the almost a hundred halls where flamenco is played, the tablaos. As a result, a third of them already went bankrupt. The part that stands up fears the final blow.

In Madrid is the famous hall Corral de la Moreria closed for over a year. Terraces in the city may be open, but performances in halls are prohibited by the government. The clearing is slowly becoming visible: of the 22 Madrid tablaos already closed six forever. Hundreds of artists are on the street because of the closures.

“Musicians seek jobs as plumbers and electricians to survive,” said Juanma Del Rey, director of the Corral de la Moreria. Until the crisis hit, his hall was never actually closed and there were night after night waiting lists to see the performances. Che Guevara once sat in the hall during a secret visit to Madrid. And also singer Bono, Harrison Ford, Kiss, politicians from all over the world. The Corral was legendary.

Director Juanma Del Rey on the stage of the ‘Corral’

Nieuwsuur / Rop Zoutberg

Belén López dances for News hour in the deserted room of Corral de la Moreria. The tapping of her heels echo against the walls. Since March last year, López no longer performs. “The halls just go bankrupt. Because nobody is worried. We were received at the ministry and the minister did not even show up.”

It is a noose around the neck of artists, says Belén López. Director Del Rey also calls it an intensely sad situation:

‘It is a noose around the neck of artists’

Del Rey fears it will be over for him if help doesn’t arrive soon. He is angry that the government is doing little for the sector, which is recognized as cultural heritage. Reductions in working hours are not sufficient, because other costs also continue month after month. “Halls go bankrupt and never return. That’s because of the central places where the tablaos to sit. They just disappear, because a tapas bar, for example, is set up. “

The history of the halls goes back two centuries. It was extremely popular in Spain in the mid-nineteenth century cafe cantante. A café where you drank a glass of wine and where a guitarist played or a dancer danced.

The cafes disappeared at the beginning of the twentieth century, but the idea was dusted off in the 1950s. Restaurant owners also copy the formula of American jazz clubs. The tablaos boost the quality of flamenco.

Black dressed dancer

The halls provide work for 95 percent of the flamenco artists, Del Rey explains. “One of the most important expressions of our culture disappears if nothing happens. I don’t really understand why it remains so quiet. Flamenco is something of all Spaniards and we have to defend that culture. Otherwise it will die, it will disappear forever. “

Jonathan Miró, director of the bankrupt Tablao, agrees Villa Rosa in the tourist center of Madrid. “The moment we really closed was rock hard. You realize it’s over, and nobody is aware of it. Nobody does anything.”

When leaving the hall, a dancer dressed in black performed in front of the locked gates. From a balcony, dresses from performances were thrown on the street forever.

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