You know whenever I want to make a fool of myself all I need to do is pretend to dance to a little flamenco music and watch my spectators barrel over in hysterics. It never fails. I stiffen my torso, raise my arms to my side and adopt a kind of serious expression to impose my masculinity on my partner, who I usually have to pick up off the floor a few seconds later because I have either accidently elbowed her in the eye or have caused her to break down into tears of laughter just at the sight of me.
But starting today, I guess I am going to have to treat the dance form with a degree of greater respect. A UNESCO intergovernmental committee has declared the world-renowned dance from the Andalusian part of Spain to be a piece of intangible world heritage, which means it is our obligation to do our utmost to preserve it. They seem to think it is in danger, and after watching a video or two of me at a wedding, you could see why they would come to that conclusion. When I do a round or two of heel-clicking I all but butcher the essence of this art form, so quite possibly I may have to give it up all together or be thrown in jail…and I would like to be incarcerated for a number of things, but not for bad dancing.
Flamenco is the generic word for a whole slew of singing and dancing expressions and schemes, and it originated in the southern third of the country, though it has by far become one of Spain’s most universal symbols, for better or worse…and mostly for worse, since the dozen other regions of Spain have seen their cultural attributes truncated by the lively neighbor. This is no time to get into the reasons behind that, but I will say that when flamenco is well done, it is truly captivating. The best place to see it is in its homeland, though Madrid itself is well known for some fine spots. It’s not just the music, or just the dancing. It’s about the atmosphere too.
By the way, the other piece of culture to be honored was French cuisine, which makes me wonder if the “preservation” part means I can no longer throw out that wedge of brie no matter how long it has been rotting in my fridge. Who knows, one day I might open the door and see it up and shouting “Olé” and dancing next to the lettuce.
Congratulations Flamenco. I promise to do you right the next time.