In the months since I last posted here (far too many…), I’ve spent many more hours practising flamenco than writing on it. Classes at La Escuela de La Tani continue to be as dynamic as ever and I’ve upped the ante a bit by venturing into the back row of Yolanda Cortés’s class. It’s a workout for the brain and the body, that leaves one high on endorphins and absolutely convinced that Barcelona must surely be one of the true capitals of flamenco. Well, come to think of it, the most famous dancer of all time, Carmen Amaya was born just a walk away, on the former Somorrostro beach now turned into Barceloneta. Like her, the Cortés family are from Barcelona but have origins in Andalucía. They are not alone. Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the relative prosperity of Catalunya and its industrial might drew many immigrant Spaniards from poorer parts of Spain, especially Andalucía. The rumba catalana has evolved as the hybrid expression of this mix, drawing a line northwards from western Andalucía all the way to Catalonia and then on to the south of France , where the Gypsy Kings did us the favour many years ago of rendering flamenco sounds international.
With the onset of summer, open air concerts late at night have become common in Barcelona. Some of these have been devoted to the rumba catalana — almost always performed by gypsy groups that claim blood ties or musical ties to the famous Peret, who won fame for flamenco, Catalunya and Spain with his Eurovision winner Canta y Sé Feliz back in 1974… So here, with the hallmark flares and sideburns of those times, is the grand old master of the rumba catalana Peret, singing one of many hit songs, Borriquito como tú: