On Saturday night I went and saw a live flamenco show. It was excellent and although the bar was packed with people I think I may have been the only non-Spaniard in the room. The bar I visited is called Café del Duende and they have an English language version of their website, but I think it’s a venue that most tourists fail to discover.
There are two kinds of travellers. People who seek out other people from their own country and do the usual touristy things, and travellers who try to go native and experience the culture of the country they are visiting. I belong to the second group and would have remained blissfully ignorant of the Café del Duende and its live flamenco show if I had taken the time to strike up a conversation with a barman earlier in the week. I’d asked for a pint of beer, but was not sure if I was pronouncing Heineken in the right way because the barmaid who originally served me tried to switch from Spanish to English. I often choose Heineken, and plan on staying in Spain for a number of months, so I asked him about the correct pronunciation. I also told him that I wanted to experience traditional Valencian paella and asked his advice about where to go. After he’d given me a few pointers about places to eat, he suggested I go and see a live flamenco show at the Café del Duende and I am very glad he did.
The Café del Duende plays host to flamenco bands from all over Spain and provides shows four nights per week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday (11.00 pm) and Sunday (8 pm). The shows last for an hour, it costs €10 to get in, and when you hand your ticket in at the bar you get a free drink. Pump-pulled lager is not an option though, all they have is bottles and the normal price for a bottle of Heineken is €3.50. That’s considerably cheaper than you can expect to pay at a nightclub in Valencia, but more expensive than many other bars. I usually pay €1.20 to €2.00 per bottle, and one of the local bars (non-tourist area) has Heineken on tap and charges €2.50 per pint. I’m not going to grumble about the price of a bottle of beer. I was there to watch the live flamenco show and experience a little bit of Spanish culture, not to try and get drunk.
I used to think flamenco was just about dancing. I was wrong about that. Wikipedia describes it as an “art form” and the music appears to be as unique to the “form” as the dance. There were three performers on Saturday night: two women, who provided the singing and dancing, and a man playing a guitar (Kike Naval). With a show like that is very easy to focus on the singing and dancing and overlook the guitar playing, but I thought the man bending the strings on Saturday was very good indeed. I also got the impression that the older lady (Isabel Julve) was probably the star of the show, and I was amazed by her abilities with a set of castanets, but I think her younger companion (Lydia Reyes) is a much better singer and dancer.
Anyway, if you are ever in Valencia, and want to catch a live flamenco show, The Café del Denude is probably the best place to go and it’s not far from the Rio de Cultura (once a river, now a park), so it is not a hard place to find.