Flamenco Extraordinaire

Through one of the many events promoted by my school, the administration arranged for students to enter (for free) to see world-renowned flamenco dancer, Rafael Amargo at the super up-scale night club Carpe Diem. The club is located right on the beach front property of Barcelona’s Port Olímpic and is actually built underground. As you walk down the red velvet stairs you can’t help but follow the alluring aroma of incense. The stairs open up into the main, dimly-lit lounge complete with cushy, round couches, gothic chandaliers, buddah statues, and half-naked women running around serving drinks. There are wealthy people from all over the world paying oober-bucks to sit in the high priced seats next to the stage, while “the rest of us” are roped off on the other side, where we must stand in the bar. Obviously, not exactly my kind of place but nevertheless, it was free, and I wanted to see some good flamenco dancing, and there was a free glass of Cava too!

But of course, when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. As my classmates and I started trickling in around 9:00pm, the promoters and front desk assistants had no idea who we were, what Escuela Mediterranea was, and why we thought we could get in free. Yeah, embarrassing to say the least! But after our pushy professors and school director showed up, everything worked out and we got that free glass of Cava! Of course, in Spanish fashion, Rafael Amargo didn’t come on stage until 12:30am and danced for maybe 10 minutes. My Spanish friend explained that this is called a bolo, when a club promotes a famous performer, who is going to put on a mind-blowing show, in order to attract clientele. The club charges insane covers at the front door, doubles drink prices and everyone waits in anticipation thinking that all the money they just spent will be worth it because there is going to be an incredible show. Meanwhile, the artist/performer sits in the back with friends, partying drinking and having a good time, then comes on for maybe 10-15 minutes (usually 2 hours after he is supposed to come on).

Luckily, I managed to get a really good seat and was right in front of Amargo before he went on stage – as you can see in the video, the man is so enamored with his “hot-self” that he can’t stop touching himself…his hair, his jacket, his shirt, back to his hair. I almost started laughing when he runs over to one of his assistants and sprays his hair with water, to give it that wet, greasy, just-got-out-of-the-shower look. However, putting his weird quirks aside, the man’s footwork, rhythm and musicality is absolutely flawless. I was in awe after his performance. Although it was nothing close to the traditional Andalusian style flamenco, with the frilly dresses and guitar, I really enjoyed the modern spin with the beat-box percussion. In reading some short biographies they say that Amargo is a national treasure. Born and raised in Granada, the heartland of flamenco, one newspaper described him as, “having drunk from the fountain of the purest flamenco. He dances like a dream in a way that brings flamenco firmly into the 21st century while managing to preserve the traditional structure of the dance, and most importantly, it’s spirit.”

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