The coronacrisis makes short work with Spanish flamenco. By all the rules in the country, the almost one hundred halls where flamenco is played closed, the tablaos. As a result, a third of them went bankrupt. The part that holds up fears the slap of grace.
In Madrid, the famous Corral de la Moreria venue has been closed for over a year. Terraces in the city may be open, but performances in halls are prohibited by the government. The balding becomes visible slowly: six of the 22 Madrid tablaos have closed forever. Because of the closures, hundreds of artists are on the street.
“ Musicians are looking for jobs as plumber and electrician to survive,” says Juanma Del Rey, director of the Corral de la Moreria. Until the crisis struck, his room was never closed and there were waiting lists night after night to see the performances. In the room once sat Che Guevara during a secret visit to Madrid. And also singer Bono, Harrison Ford, Kiss, politicians from all over the world. The Corral was legendary.
Belén López dances for Nieuwsuur in the abandoned hall of Corral de la Moreria. The ticking of her heels echoes against the walls. López has not been performing since March last year. “The halls just go bankrupt. Because nobody cares. We were received at the ministry and the minister didnt even show up.”
It is a noose around the neck of artists, says Belén López. Director Del Rey also calls it an intensely sad situation:
Del Rey fears its over for him if he doesnt get help soon. He is angry that the government is doing little for the sector, which is recognised as a cultural heritage. Reductions in working hours are not enough, because other costs also continue month after month. “Halls go bankrupt and never return. Thats because of the central places where the tablaos are. They simply disappear, because a tapas bar is established, for example.”
The history of the halls goes back two centuries. Extremely popular in Spain was the café cantante in the middle of the nineteenth century. A café where you drank a wine and where a guitarist played, or a dancer danced.
early twentieth century the cafes disappeared, but in the fifties the idea was dusted. Restaurateurs also copy the formula of American jazz clubs. The tablaos drive up the quality of flamenco.
Black dressed dancer
The halls work on 95 percent of flamenco artists, explains Del Rey. “One of the most important manifestations of our culture disappears if nothing happens. I dont really understand why it stays so quiet. Flamenco is something of all Spaniards, and we have to defend that culture. Because otherwise it will die, it will disappear forever.”
The same agrees Jonathan Miró, director of the bankrupt tablao Villa Rosa in the tourist centre of Madrid. “The moment we really closed was hard. You realize its over, and nobodys aware of it. Nobody does anything.”
At the farewell of the hall, a dancer dressed in black appeared in front of the locked fences. From a balcony dresses of performances were thrown on the street forever.