Spain is known for its vibrant traditions and customs and Flamenco dance is one of the best examples. This flamboyant Spanish dance has become ingrained into the culture of the country and is popular with both Spanish natives and those lucky enough to visit Spain and witness the dance first hand.
There are three forms of Flamenco; `Cante`, the song, `Baile`, the dance and `Guitarra`, the guitar. The dance is a sensual expression of the swaying rhythms of the guitar and the faster rhythm of the castanets that the dancers play.
The history of this beautiful dance lies in Andalusia where it was popular amongst gypsy, or `gitano` families in the 18th century. Due to its multicultural history, many cultural groups have influenced the Flamenco style to make it a true celebration of Spanish history. In more modern times, Flamenco has become more mainstream with the advent of mass media. However, despite its increasing popularity, Flamenco is still enjoyed in small, intimate groups rather than on large stages, which suits the personal nature of the dance and accompanying music.
There is a Flamenco dance festival in Mijas each year, a mountain village on the Andalucian coast. Here you can witness stunning Flamenco displays by both local groups and Flamenco groups from around the world who come to soak up the relaxed atmosphere and the traditional Spanish music and dance. These balmy summer nights are a perfect backdrop to the entertainment on offer and visitors are always welcome to join in.
Throughout Andalucia, you will find gypsy neighbourhoods, or `barrios gitanos`, where `penas` dedicate their time to the preservation of the Flamenco tradition. This is a perfect way to experience authentic Flamenco as close to its historic roots as anywhere you`ll find in Spain. One of the most famous of these neighbourhoods is Peña Flamenca Juan Breva in Malaga, which is well worth a visit.
When you inevitably fall in love with Flamenco, you can join the dancers and experience the `duende` (the spirit of Flamenco) for yourself by enrolling in a class. The Andalucian capital of Seville has several schools, the most famous of which is the Taller Flamenco, which caters to overseas visitors with lessons taught in English. You can choose from dance or guitar, depending on where your passion and skills lie.
For anyone who does not live in Spain, the best way to enjoy this tradition is to visit the country and experience Flamenco first hand. The best place in Spain to experience Flamenco is Andalucia where the dance originated. The beautiful areas of Seville, Cadiz, Malaga and Granada can be found in this region, which are surrounded by the coastlines of the Costa de la Luz, Costa del Sol amongst others.
Some restaurants also feature Flamenco, where you can often sit outside to watch it while you dine. If the weather isn’t so good the dancing is brought inside.
You can choose from some great accommodation in this area, either on the coast or inland from large, resort hotels to smaller independent boutique hotels. Also, six airports serve this area including Malaga, Granada and Seville, which means that travelling to Spain is very convenient from any of the UK airports.