¡Olé! If there’s such a thing as having a previous life, I reckon I was probably Spanish. I’ve been a huge fan of Spain since I was 18 and had my first holiday in the country. With a group of friends, travelling in a titivated old Transit van, we transited through France and into Spain (the vehicle breaking down only once). Although I didn’t take to camping (how grim were those loos!), I was captivated by Spain and its culture…except the bullfighting.
The Boss and I moved to Mallorca because, after holidaying separately and together here, we’d both fallen in love with the island – particularly its rural heart. Once we’d settled into life here, we discovered Mallorca’s own distinct culture. But because of tourism, Mallorca also attracts people from the Peninsula and other countries to work in the hospitality industry – which makes for an interesting cosmopolitan mix of people and cultural activities. An example: I’m told that in the 1960s, Palma once had 18 tablaos – flamenco bars with a stage. Eighteen! Presumably this was due to the influx of Andalusians who came to work in the island’s hotels, restaurants, and bars.
The real deal
When we visited Seville a few years ago we spent an evening at a locals’ flamenco bar – and loved it. But we didn’t expect to find anything as authentic back on our island. We had the impression that flamenco here was something just for tourists to enjoy in the evenings after dinner in their resort hotels; only recently did I find out that the Balearics has a flamenco culture association which has organized the Festival de Flamenco ‘Ciutat de Palma’ for the past four years.
The tablaos may be almost non-existent in Palma, but interest in flamenco certainly hasn’t died out; the art form just needed a bit of ‘oomph’ to generate more interest and broaden awareness.
Thanks to some flamenco aficionados who are on a mission to “restore the spirit of tablao to Palma”, you can now see a rather thrilling and authentic show in Mallorca’s capital. Flamenco and local history expert Julio Piñeiro and chef Björn San Pedro founded Flamallorca, which launched this spring with the participation of some talented performers (and some generous sponsors). I’ve seen the show twice and can heartily recommend it if you are visiting Mallorca in the coming weeks – or next year.
The venue, Teatre Sans, is an intimate café-theatre in Palma’s Old Town – a former palace that an olive-oil trader built in the 14th/15th centuries; his coat of arms is still in the courtyard. A Mallorcan family eventually bought the Gothic building, owning it for 300 years before Franco confiscated it – believing the owners to be Republicans. Post-Franco, the palace was back in the family, who eventually sold it for a reasonable price to the current owners, who wanted to restore it to its former use as a small theatre.
It’s an atmospheric venue for Flamallorca and audiences see the show in parts, in different areas of the building. It all begins with wine and tasty home-made tapas in the courtyard (check out that coat of arms), where a guitarist plays and sets the scene for what’s to come. I shall not reveal more, but share a few photos I took during my two visits to give you a flavour.
Thanks to the diversity of this island, we can enjoy the tranquillity of living in rural Mallorca and experience Andalusia’s most vibrant art form just an hour’s drive from home. ¡Olé indeed!
For more information, or to book, check out Flamallorca. And don’t forget to call out ¡Olé! a few times during the show…
©Jan Edwards 2017