“The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.” -Charles Baudelaire
He taps the wooden floor with his heels, gentle at first, growing harder and faster with each flick of his foot, leaving scuff marks on the floor. His fingers snap and his wrists twist in short, forceful spins, stiffening his arms and torso. With a tug of his vest, his body straightens, his feet moving simultaneously with the strums of a Spanish guitar. As the beats of the music get louder, his feet quicken, moving so fast they almost become invisible.
A second pair of metal-heeled shoes enter the stage. Dressed in orange velvet, the woman sways to the raspy voice of a Spanish singer, grabbing the bottom of her skirt, exposing her rapidly moving feet. A fringed shawl drapes her shoulders, hugging her curvaceous hips, accentuating the immaculately tailored costume. She twirls and spins, whipping the fringes into the air, sending a cool breeze into the audience. Smooth notes emit from the Spanish singer’s voice, telling a tale of passion and desire. The woman moves toward the man, stamping her feet,catching his eyes, gesturing him to move closer. Never touching, the man and the woman dance and clap, competing for each other’s attention. She throws her body in tense, staccato motions, lifting her arms above her head, perfectly in sync with the melodic sounds of the music.
I witnessed this exchange of music and dance inches away from the stage. The venue was small and intimate, only big enough for fifty people maximum. Casa Patas, Madrid’s premier Flamenco club, boasts an impressive reputation for authentic Flamenco dancing. Throughout the city, there are many places that claim to have the best Flamenco shows, but Casa Patas blows them all away. Set back on a quiet, side street, Casa Patas opens into a long, slightly narrow restaurant. Legs of ham line the wall above the counter, adding an authentic flare to the restaurant. A half opened door at the back of the restaurant beckons patrons to make their way to the small performance area.
The room is dressed in darkness. Deep shades of red and black cover the walls and small, round tables are scattered throughout the room, situated on tiered ledges. The wooden stage is smaller than expected, surrounded by draped black curtains. A set of tables and chairs form an L shape around the stage, allowing a handful of lucky audience members the opportunity to be right in front of the action. Five chairs line the back of the stage, occupied by men with guitars, violins, and microphone stands. Adorned in full black, the musicians make their way to the stage, smiling and gesturing to one another. People take their seats and the lights dim, the slow, steady strum of a guitar signals the beginning of the show.
The audience is silent. The only sounds in the room flow from the singers’ mouths and the hard taps of the dancers’ shoes. Old, Spanish syllables pour from the singers’ mouths, telling the stories of love, passion, and history, transporting the audience to the romantic world of ancient Spain. With each new beat, the room becomes illuminated in sound. As the show draws to a close, the feeling of Flamenco still remains, imprinted in the souls of its patrons.
Casa Patas is located on Calle de los Cañizares 10. Tickets can be booked online and prices vary (drink included with the purchase of a ticket). It is important to book tickets months in advance as there are few seats and shows sell out quickly.