Report from Spain, Part III
If you want to see flamenco in Spain, we are told, you have two choices. You can go to a tablao–a flamenco spectacle organized for tourists–and be guaranteed a polished, professional experience that is likely to be somewhat soulless. Or you can go to a more authentic flamenco bar, and take your chances; you might be there for an off night, or you might see something spectacular. Lauren and I have decided to take our chances with authenticity.
And thus it is that we end up at Casa Patas at midnight. We’re lucky that there’s such an early show that evening; in many flamenco bars, things apparently don’t get started until about 2AM. (Tablaos tend to start earlier, since foreigners have an odd tendency to go to bed before sunrise.) We pass through a crowded, smokey cafe to a long and narrow back room, where tables and chairs have been set up facing a small stage. We’re seated towards the back; it seems that most of the locals knew to make reservations.
While we wait for the show to start, we scope out the crowd. Seated next to us are two women–one in her late 20’s or early 30’s, and the other perhaps in her 40’s. They’re dressed up for a night on the town, and they’ve managed to attract the attentions of a young Spanish man in a getup that is, shall we say, striking. The unbuttoning of his black shirt has not quite reached his navel, but it’s not for lack of trying. Gold medallions nestle in his chest hair. And to top it all off, he’s wearing a long white doctor’s coat. He’s paying just enough attention to the 40-year-old woman to make it clear that he’s really interested in her younger friend, but the two women are responding with polite indifference.