“When in Granada, thy must get their Flamenco on” – AWC
There’s something simply magical about seeing a Flamenco show in a gypsy cave in Sacromonte. It’s about as authentic as it gets, right?
DON’T FALL FOR IT!!
Allow me to start off by explaining; Sacromonte is extremely authentic. A “barrio” made up of cave-houses, it’s historically known as the Gypsy neighborhood. These cave-residing Gypsies have been born and raised with Flamenco in their family bloodline. The minute they popped outta mama’s womb, they were most likely exposed to the clapping, stomping and “OLÉs!” of Flamenco.
Many of the most famous names in Flamenco came from Sacromonte, like Juan Habichuela, Pepe Habichuela, Juan Carmona, Antoio Carmona…(yes, they’re all related.)
So, if these Flamenco caves are so authentic, how can they be touristy?
Glad you asked! You know how all beautiful, historical landmarks eventually get turned into tourist attractions? Take the Alhambra, for example. Well, that’s exactly what happened to these Flamenco Gypsy caves! These oh-so-popular cave venues have pretty much been turned into museums, where Flamenco artists come to play for groups of tourists who’ve been bused in from their downtown hotels, like a herd of sheep. Not to mention these tablaos, or “Flamenco venues” are super overpriced.
Want the real Flamenco-cave deal? Take a stroll through Sacromonte at dusk! You’ll hear the echoes of Gypsies singing, clapping and stomping in their cave “living rooms,” doin’ what they do best. But chances are, you’ll be hungry for more…
Here’s where to see a real show:
Lost in a corner of the Albaicin, it’s tiny, intimate and authentic. In fact, it’s my all-time favorite place to see Flamenco here in Granada! It might not be in the living room of a Gypsy’s cave, but it sure feels like it. Javier, the wonderful owner, bartender and director of talent has a lifelong passion for Flamenco, and it shows in the super-Andalucian vibes. El Tabanco is more than just a business to him; it’s his pride and joy- and you can feel it!
You know how musicians feed off the energy of the audience? Well, it’s obvious that the musicians love this place- from its authentic vibes, to its enthusiastic local audience. The place is so small, there isn’t usually room for dancers; just a singer and guitarist. But trust me, you don’t miss the dancer! Tip: Order the house jerez, or “sherry” from the barrel! It’s “sherry” delicious 😉
IMPORTANT NOTES: It’s only open on the weekends. The days of the performances vary between Thursday – Sunday. Check out the website for weekly performances. Then, call my man Javier to make a reservation! +34 662137046
Price: 8€ per ticket
Another extremely intimidate hole in the ground (literally, underground!), you’ll still get the authentic experience here, with a bit more of the bells and whistles.
This is your next best option if you have your heart set on seeing a dancer in a poofy red dress. Or this guy…
While it’s definitely more touristy than El Tabanco, it has full food and drink service. In addition, there are performances every night! The artists are almost always local although the quality varies from night to night, and the dancer is so close to you that she might whack your hat off. (Don’t wear a hat!)
Price: 12€ per ticket
Taberna J & J – FREE FREE FREE
Another local secret…one of my fave bars, J & J, has FREE (no, that’s not a typo!) Flamenco shows every Saturday at 6 pm. All they ask is that you bring a kilo of canned food to donate to the food bank! That’s right; you’re seeing Flamenco AND helping save world hunger. Now, of course, since it’s free, it’s not guarenteed to be quite the quality of performers that you’d get at the other venues. However, they ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at either! In fact, many of them also perform in the other venues. You’ll certainly get your dose of OLÉ! TOMA! and VENGA! Hint: Arrive early, as the place tends to get packed really fast!
Professional peñas and festivals!
Real Granadino Flamenco enthusiasts generally don’t attend the weekly public shows (yes, maybe they’re just too darn good for us). Instead, they go to Flamenco peñas or “clubs.” For peasants like us, these exclusive peñas often open up a night to the public. Check out my favorite, Peña La Plateria or choose from a list of Matador’s 10 best Flamenco peñas.
Also, it’s very common that a Flamenco festival passes through Granada! They often perform in Granada’s biggest theaters, like Teatro Isabel La Católica. These Flamenco-riffic festivals get some of the best artists in España. If you’re in Granada, go to Isabel La Católica, Auditorio Manuel de Falla or Teatro Alhambra and check out who’s performing. If you coincide with one, FlamenGO!!
Here are some of the best shows in Granada: every December is the Encuentros Flamenco Festival and Flamenco Viene Del Sur. Every June and July the International Festival of Music and Dance takes place, featuring flamenco shows in the Alhambra!
Price: Both peñas and festival shows usually vary around 20€ (still cheaper than the tourist caves!)
DOWNLOAD this article as a GPS guided wifi-free city guide on iTunes: HERE.