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FLAMENCO

The origins of Flamenco may be uncertain but not in question is its regional location as being Andalusia. One theory is that it is based in the 18th Century when the gypsies in the area suffered oppressive demands by the authorities of the new ruler King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel who took possession of their beloved Granada after the defeat of its Moorish rulers. The words of their songs or laments record suffering, oppression and sad romance. When this distinctive style of singing was first coupled to the present version of dramatic dancing is lost in history - however, one thing is remains very certain, it was not created just to entertain tourists!

It is more than probable that the proud male gypsy would not have been allowed to exhibit his talents as a dancer in front of members of the opposite sex in a fire lit cave in the mountains. It is also very likely that the ladies would not have been allowed to dance in case of causing hot-blooded jealousy and would at best been limited to background singing. It is more feasible to consider that the emotional dancing would have been limited to the single "bloods" showing off their prowess and male hood in front of their friends, and it was more probable that they accompanied their own dancing with handclapping and the songs that they had learnt from their childhood. It must have been a massive leap in their culture for both the sexes to have joined in such a public expression of deep and graceful emotion as seen today.

All over Spain there are exhibitions of Flamenco for the visitor to enjoy and it can be safely said that it must be a very distant cousin to that once reserved to the gypsy caves in Andalusia. We recommend that a traveller seeks out one of the less touristic places in the towns, such as can be found in corners in Seville, Granada and Córbada. A recommendable idea is to search for a small village celebrating a special event as Flamenco will normally be part of the occasion. Then there is an opportunity to watch, listen, and thoroughly enjoy the pure spirit that Flamenco celebrates.

(The writer of the above comments had the privilege in 1960 to travel for about two hours in the early hours to a small Tasca (a roadside small inn), hidden in the mountains well behind Málaga. In the next few hours he witnessed passing gypsies seemingly dropping into the Tasca and then some of them spontaneously breaking into song and more often with an exhibition of Flamenco emotional dancing accompanied by handclapping - not one woman in sight, nor even a guitar!)

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