In 2010, UNESCO dubbed the furious-yet-fabulous dance flamenco as a piece of Andalusia’s ‘intangible cultural heritage’. So where better to experience this spectacular tradition than in the Costa del Sol town of Málaga, one of the oldest cities in Europe, which is not just blessed with a stunning coastline and incredible architecture, but ample bodegas and tavernas hosting regular performances of Flamenco.
What Traditional flamenco is about the unique artistic expression of Grenada’s ‘gypsies’, a fact that Tablao Los Amayas’ show proudly advertises about its native dancers. During the show, the percussive footwork of the dancers intertwines with florid singing to create an electric and emotional atmosphere. The female dancers wear colourful traje de flamenca – traditional, tightly fitting dresses that flare out from the hips with ruffles on the lower half – flinging the ruffles around as part of their repertoire. The same applies to the shawl, which emphasises the sensual positions of the dancer’s arms.
Don’t miss One of Spain’s best-known artists, Picasso, was born and spent his early years in Málaga, so don’t miss nearby Palacio de Buenavista, where 285 of his works are housed.
Calle Vélez Málaga, 6, 29016 Málaga; +34 636 575 125
What In this intimate, unassuming venue, Flamenco de Ley dancers use complicated improvisation to create a natural and spontaneous performance that honours the past by blending traditional music with original movements.
Don’t miss The Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares, close to the Centro de Arte Flamenco, showcases homemade crafts such as embroidery, clothmaking, winemaking, olive production and beekeeping.
Calle Muro de Puerta Nueva N 10, 29005 Málaga; +34 665 097 359
El Gallo Ronco
What According to many who have seen it, the Cal y Canto show at El Gallo Ronco restaurant is all about the guitars and music. But the venue’s traditional taverna, with its vaulted ceiling, sets the scene for dancing with an energy that is off the scale. The sound of stamping feet echoes throughout the tavern, and when married with intriguing hand clapping and ‘armography’ – shapes made by the arms of the flamenco dancers – the result is visually arresting.
Don’t miss Before the Cal y Canto show, enjoy a drink on the restaurant’s sunny, geranium-lined terrace and take in stunning views of Málaga’s cathedral.
Plaza de las Flores 1, s/n, 29005 Málaga; +34 952 228 103
What Málaga’s El Jardin Restaurante offers a double-barrel of local dance, with flamenco shows on a Friday and Saturday night, and tango every Thursday. It offers great cathedral views and an atmosphere that has drawn in celebs like the Spanish tenor José Carreras and Venezuelan pop star Karina. While the dancing and music are superb, what sets El Jardin apart is the audience participation – braver members of the audience may find themselves pulled up onto the stage to take part.
Don’t miss North of Alameda Principal is the colourful covered market, Mercado Central de Atarazanas. This iron-clad, 19th-century building still has its original Moorish gate.
Calle Cañón 1, 29015 Málaga; +34 952 220 419
What The Queen of El Pimpi is the moniker of singer Encarni Navarro, whose energetic show in the Picasso Loft of tapas bar El Pimpi is all about capturing the true spirit of flamenco. This irresistible artist’s repertoire includes all types of Spanish song, with a different show every night to suit the audience mood. Whatever’s on the cards, you can expect Encarni to have everyone in the audience up and dancing. El Pimpi opened in 1971 and is housed in an 18th-century mansion with a barrel hall typical of this era. The surrounding neighbourhood, with the Alcazaba, Roman Theatre, Castillo de Gibralfaro and Plaza de la Merced all in close proximity, is another bonus for this venue.
Don’t miss The vista from the balcony of El Palomar de Picasso at El Pimpi, across the old centre of Málaga, is magical.
Calle Granada, 62 y Calle Alcazabilla, 29015 Málaga; +34 952 228 990