The city of Madrid has it’s own life force, it’s own vibrant undercurrent. I felt it in the murderous roar of the crowds inside bull fighting ring and now here in the dark of the Cafetin La Quimera I feel a pulse of it again. The scent of heritage, of passion, of showmanship and of sweat.
There were a number of things I wanted to do to really get a flavour of Spain’s most exciting city, see the Templo do Debod at sunset, stand on the Zero Kilometre line, walk the halls of the Royal Palace, try to understand the continuing cult of the bull and see some real Flamenco dancing.
There are posters all over Madrid advertising big flashy shows with big flashy ticket prices but I wanted to experience the real thing not a show to please a tourist audience. The Cafetin La Quimera take flamenco right back to its 19th century roots and prides itself on providing a venue for authentic flamenco music and dance.
The only instruments are the singing voice, a guitar and hand clapping. Oh and of course those pounding feet. No microphones are used and no percussion to cover errors in the rhythm of the dance.
“The only ingredients we use are heart and soul, seasoned with the visceral passions of the artists . . . their tools are improvisation, feeling, emotion, and what is known as ‘deunde’.”
Deunde is a Spanish term which refers to a heightened state of expression and authenticity – a kind of possession. The performers certainly didn’t disappoint. The Cafetin is tiny, small round tables huddle in candle light around a low wooden stage. We were seated right at the front. It was mesmerising.
It felt as if we had been invited to a private party, the performers were like a group of friends, just out for the evening doing something that they loved. The music was full of passion, the male singer made the hair on the nack of my neck stand up and the dancers just seem to get up and perform whenever the music took them. It was raw and it was exciting. And it was a lot of fun!
You can find the Cafetin in a quiet residential area of Madrid and they run show every weekend. It is best to book online at busy times though.