Questions and Answers about Madrid Flamenco
WHY should you see a flamenco show in Madrid?
First, because it's so darn entertaining!!! Can you even see anything more Spanish than a flamenco show? Flamenco is generally associated with the southern region of Andalucia - most typically with Seville or Granada - but Madrid is where Spain's most talented flamenco performers go to "make it big" and become nationally known.
HOW does one choose one Flamenco Tablao over another?
It's a challenge. There are a number of tablaos and flamenco venues in Madrid with websites but there are not many places from which to choose. Below, we'll detail only those flamenco tablaos in Madrid which have a website simply because most travelers prefer to SEE something of what they're getting before paying - and it can be cost prohibitive for some. One criteria for choosing a flamenco show could be the price (see next discussion item). But money should not be the ONLY criteria. Other criteria could be the location of the flamenco tablao. Some are in Madrid's Old Downtown but othes are further out, requiring public or private transportation. Finally, the most important criteria in choosing flamenco is the quality of the flamenco musicians and flamenco dancers. It's likely that a visit to Spain could be the ONLY opportunity in some travelers' lives to see LIVE flamenco and so they are seeking the best flamenco show in Madrid possible. Who can blame them?
HOW MUCH does a Madrid flamenco show cost? And WHAT'S INCLUDED?
Flamenco shows in Madrid can be quite expensive for many people. While accepting that "expensive" is a relative term, we'll assign some guidelines. Generally speaking, the typical price for a flamenco show is about 30-35 Euros per person. I've seen flamenco shows in Spain for as little as 20 Euros but also for as much as 40 Euros. This cost is ONLY the admission price. Many tablaos have kitchen or dinner services available. But ordering a MEAL PLUS SHOW can raise the total flamenco experience price to 60-80 Euros - per person - and flamenco tablaos are not known for their high quality food. That's not to say the food is bad, no, but the "flamenco food" served is usually just of average quality and prices tend to be inflated. I generally recommend that people have their dinner before or after the flamenco shows to save some money and to vary their evening experience. Most Madrid Tablaos will offer a free first drink with your entry and it *sometimes* accompanies a free tapa like a plate of olives, crackers, or even potato chips. (an odd tapa for a flamenco tablao but common) Subsequent drinks ordered can be expensive.
Do you need to make a RESERVATION FOR FLAMENCO in Madrid?
ABSOLUTELY! Be sure to make a reservation at least 1 day in advance. You won't necessarily be able to attend a flamenco show by casually enterting a tablao at show time (walk-ins tend to get the worse seats). Be forewarned that when making reservations by phone it's not likely that the person answering will speak English so, if at all possible, make your reservation via email, through a tour company, or your hotel concierge.
HOW do you know you'll be getting a HIGH-QUALITY PERFORMANCE?
The short answer is, you won't know. Most people in the world don't know anything about flamenco dancing or flamenco music so the client is generally happy with whatever they're "served" as a performance. The better known flamenco tablaos in Madrid usually have very good performers, many of which come from Andalucia itself.
How can one find NON-touristic, "AUTHENTIC FLAMENCO" in Madrid"?
All the flamenco you'll find in Madrid is "Authentic Flamenco". The dancers, in some cases, have studied for years. In other cases they're taught by the family. But finding flamenco tablaos without tourists is a bit of an impossibility. People often write me asking where they can see REAL FLAMENCO without the tourists. The answer is simple. (POSSIBLY) In the houses of Madrid gypsies! But no non-gypsy would ever be allowed to enter that society. The gypsy society is a CLOSED society so Gypsy Family Flamenco is only for gypsies and NOT for outsiders. On rare occasions in some bars you'll find "spontaneous flamenco" performed but this only happens when A) flamenco-trained persons are in the bar and B) when the mood strikes these people. So in short, it's truly a hit-or-miss situation where it's more likely you will not see spontaneous flamenco being danced than otherwise. I've only heard stories from 2 people when they saw flamenco being danced at a bar they were visiting one night but the next night they went and there was nothing. Plus, bars in Madrid tend to always be full of people so DANCING of any kind, particularly the swirling FLAMENCO style of dancing, is nearly an impossibility. Finally, only a tiny percentage of non-gypsy women study flamenco anymore (it used to be much more common) and authentic gipsy women generally DO NOT frequent bars.
» Various Important Notes:
» flamenco shows typically start at 10pm and midnight
» many have shows every night of the week
» tips are not necessary but some coins could be left for good service
» waiters may or may not speak English
» some flamenco tablaos do not allow flash photos taken and may not allow video either
» prices are not always listed on flamenco websites