If someone were to ask you what comes to mind when asked about flamenco, most of us would probably think of bright colors and frilly dresses, bold and defined movements, enough clapping and foot tapping to draw a crowd, and masterful guitar playing and clicking castanets (perhaps the most quintessentially Spanish sound there is).
But the true essence of this art form is much more profound, originating with the Andalusian Romanies of Southern Spain in the 18th century as a way to express the legends and struggles of daily life and reflect the experiences of being an outcast subculture existing within a predominately white, Christian Spain. Fast forward to the present, where this iconic art form is being reinvented, with a bold new wave of artists breathing new life and meaning into this archaic Spanish treasure, reminding us of its continued relevance in the modern age – and we are intrigued to say the least.
In addition to challenging cultural status quos and gender roles, surprise surprise, flamenco has also long been one of the go-to methods used by Spaniards to speak out in political protest. The onset of Spain’s economic crisis provided an ideal opportunity for flamenco to re-enter the public spotlight and reconnect with its original mission of expressing the plight of local citizens and bringing social awareness to those in positions of power. If you have any friends living in Spain, just ask them if the name Flo6x8 rings a bell, as they are the flamenco-flash-mob group that is largely accredited with re-politicizing modern day flamenco – and making some rather memorable experiences at the neighborhood bank. Throughout the COVID pandemic, flamenco has also been used a catalyst for social change and a means to protest for the rights of performers and artists in the cultural sector.
Whether you enjoy it for its enchanting beauty or meaningful purpose, the magic of flamenco has proven to withstand the trials that time and a changing society have bestowed upon it, reinventing itself and those who experience it each time.