Flamenco in a Madrid tablao

Everybody knows that flamenco music and dance come from Spain, but the exact origin is unclear and even the name 'flamenco' is still a mystery. What we do know for a fact is that the ‘gitanos’ or gypsies played a role. In the Middle Ages, they imported flamenco from India. Later, the Moors, Jews, Africans, South Americans and Spaniards all left their mark on the dance.

Casa Patas, authentic tablao in Madrid

Casa Patas, authentic tablao in Madrid

The flamenco palace of Casa Patas

The multicultural district Lavapiés is the epicentre of Madrid's flamenco scene. Here we find one of the most authentic tablaos of Madrid: Casa Patas, set in a 130-year-old house with ornate wrought-iron balconies. On weekends, shows start at 9:00 pm. The early shows are primarily for tourists, but the later the evening the more authentic the performance. The locals arrive after midnight, elevating the temperament of the musicians and dancers. As in the other tablaos, guests will drink and eat as they watch the show. Reservations are recommended.

Celebrity tablao: Corral de la Morería

Celebrity tablao: Corral de la Morería

Marlene Dietrich’s favourite tablao

Although more expensive, Corral de la Morería, on the edge of La Latina neighbourhood, is the best traditional tablao according to many. A show costs 40 euro, and with dinner you will easily spend 100 euro. But the quality of the dancers and musicians has been unparalleled for more than 50 years. An eclectic group of celebrities – from Marlene Dietrich and Gina Lollobrigida to Michael Douglas and Richard Gere – have made their way here to watch the flamenco show. Reservations are a must.

The spectacular façade of Villa Rosa

The spectacular façade of Villa Rosa

Almodóvar’s tablao: Villa Rosa

Flamenco celebrities such as Lola Flores, Imperio Argentina and Miguel de Molina have performed here and stars such as Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner and the Spanish King have come to watch them. Opened a century ago, Villa Rosa is the oldest tablao in Madrid – and still one of the cheapest. Pedro Almodóvar used Villa Rosa as a film location for his movie ‘Tacones lejanos’ (High Heels) in 1991, because of the charming interior with hand-painted Andalusian tile tableaus and its beautiful façade overlooking popular nightlife destination Plaza Santa Ana.

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