El Duende and La Rumba Catalana
It may be surprising but flamenco in Barcelona is in an excellent state of health and Catalonia has been an important centre for this art form since its beginnings nearly two centuries ago.
The arrival of flamenco in Catalonia dates back to the mid-19th century as the major cities and coastal resorts have always acted as a magnet for Andalusian immigrants, who brought their culture with them.
The fact that Catalonia has always had a large autochthonous gitano or gypsy community, particularly in Sants, Somorrostro, La Mina, Gràcia or the city of Lleida, also meant that the seeds of flamenco fell on fertile ground and soon produced its own local variants.
In the early days, flamenco culture was enthusiastically received by artists, such as Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas and Isidre Nonell and the late 19th century produced Catalan composers of the calibre of Granados or Albeniz, whose flamenco influences are evident.
Carmen Amaya, perhaps the earliest flamenco superstar, was born into a gitano family in the Barcelona slum of Somorrostro, now La Vila Olímpica.
It should be no surprise to that not just but two one of Barcelona’s top flamenco venues are named after her – Los Tarantos in Plaça Reial, is named after Amaya’s best known film, and the full name of El Tablao de Carmen in Poble Espanyol is El Tablao de Carmen Amaya.
The Growth of Flamenco in Barcelona
By the 1950s, Catalonia had its own indigenous style of flamenco music, La Rumba Catalana or Catalan Rumba, which was made famous in Spain by the likes of first Peret and later Gato Pérez and then popularised internationally by The Gypsy Kings and Los Manolos, whose Amigos para Siempre was the theme song of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
Obviously, the massive influx of immigration from the rest of Spain brought hundreds of thousands of Andalusians to the Barcelona Metropolitan Area and a consequent boom in Andalusian music and culture.
Many new arrivals, including copla singer Manolo Escobar, whose family settled in Badalona, first made their name performing flamenco in Barcelona and there are are pockets of intense flamenco activity all over the city.
This trend continues to this day and has been stimulated particularly by the creation of the Taller de Músics music school in the 1980s.
Although initially centred on jazz, the Taller de Músics began giving courses in flamenco quite early on, which not only attracted some of the most accomplished flamenco musicians and teachers to the city but has also spawned a whole generation of qualified young musicians looking to play flamenco in Barcelona.
This means that pretty much wherever you go the standard of musician ship is extremely high, here is a list of some my favourite places to see a flamenco show in Barcelona.
Palau Dalmases-Espai Barroc
The Palau Dalmases is a 16th century palace located on Carrer Montcada just a short walk from the Picasso Museum and Santa Maria del Mar in the neighbourhood of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera, so it’s very close to the city centre.
It’s a fantastically intimate space to watch and listen to flamenco and the venue’s traditional four-piece combo of cante, baile, cajón and guitar seem to be right on top of you.
Shows are daily at 6 pm, 7.30 pm and 9.30 pm so whenever you go you’ll still have time to eat at one of the great restaurants in nearby El Born.
Carrer de Montcada, 20,
Getting There: Metro Jaume I – Yellow L4 Line
- Consult Programme and Book Palau Dalmases Tickets Online
Initially opened in Plaça Reial just after the release of the Carmen Amaya film of the same name in 1963, Los Tarantos was reopened after a major restoration by jazz promoters Mas i Mas in 1993.
Artists tend to do a week-long residency at Los Tarantos so you get a chance to see some of the really top performers in Spain.
The performances are intense but tend to be under an hour with shows normally at 8.30, 9.30 and 10.30 and you get a reduction in ticket price if you book online in advance.
Plaça Reial, 17
Getting There: Liceu Metro – Green L3 Line
- Consult Programme and Book Tarantos Tickets Online
Teatre Poliorama and El Palau de Música
Teatre Poliorama and Palau de Música offer two major flamenco stage shows – Gran Gala Flamenco and Opera and Flamenco – featuring a full cast of bailaores or dancers, cantaores or singers and musicians.
Both shows have excellent reviews but if you are looking for something a little more authentic, I would suggest the Gran Gala Flamenco.
As these flamenco shows are just part of the programme at two of Barcelona’s major theatres, dates are limited and tickets tend to sell out quite quickly so once you have your travel dates, I strongly recommend booking online before you arrive.
Rambla dels Estudis, 115
Getting There: Catalunya Metro – Red L1 Line, Green L3 Line, Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat
Palau de la Música Catalana
C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6
Getting There: Urquinaona Metro – Red L1 Line, Yellow L4 Line
- Book Gran Gala Flamenco and Opera and FlamencoTickets Online
El Tablao Cordobés
Located on the celebrated Ramblas on La Rambla del Centre to be precise, El Tablao Cordobés is probably the best known of the traditional Andalusian tablaos in Barcelona.
You have plenty of options ranging from just seeing the show to having a full meal with drinks as well as watching the most authentic flamenco in Barcelona.
The performances begin at 6.45 pm, 8.15 pm, 10 pm and 11.30 pm so you have a fantastic set of options.
El Tablao Cordobés
Les Rambles, 35
Getting There: Drassanes and Liceu Metro – Red L1 Line, Green L3 Line, Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat
- Book Your Tablao Cordobés Tickets Online
Jazz Sí Club
The Jazz Sí Club is the bar of the Taller de Músics jazz school in El Raval and has flamenco performances every Friday and Saturday.
There’s always a good mixture of invited guests plus the presence of teachers and students mean that impromptu jam sessions are always on the cards.
At the time of writing entrance is €10 including a drink and performances start at 8.45 pm so flamenco at Jazz Sí is a great option before you hit town.
JAZZ SÍ CLUB
Getting There: Sant Antoni Metro – Purple L2 Line
El Tablao de Carmen
Located on Montjuïc in the wonderful Poble Espanyol in an authentic Andalusian taberna built for the 1929 Universal Exhibition, the Tablao de Carmen is named after the legendary Carmen Amaya.
Just like at the Tablao Cordobés, you can choose from a number of performances with drinks or meals included.
Tables tend to get quite full particularly at the weekends so it’s worth booking advance if you are coming to Barcelona in summer.
El Tablao de Carmen
Poble Espanyol de Montjuïc
Avda. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 13
Getting There: Plaça Espanya Metro – Red L1 Line, Green L3 Line, Pink L8 Line, Ferrocarrils de la Generalita (then take the bus up to Poble Espanyol)
- Book your Tablao de Carmen Tickets Online
Centre Civic Besòs
Well out of the city centre close to what used to be the gitano slum of La Mina, flamenco in Barcelona doesn’t get more authentic or down to earth than the Centre Civic Besòs.
They have a full programme of shows as well as jam sessions, a music school and the brilliant (in)fusión flamenca initiative.
This is full on flamenco with no frills at very reasonable prices but as it’s so far outside the city centre is probably best suited for those of you living in Barcelona although if you are here on holiday, the adventure would be worth it.
Centre Civic Besòs
Rambla de Prim, 87
Getting There: Besòs Mar Metro – Yellow L4 Line