I was recently invited to attend a Flamenco show at Tablao de Carmen here in Barcelona and I must admit that at first, I was a bit skeptical
If you’re ever read my popular post where I detail ‘’12 Mistakes Tourists Always Make When Visiting Barcelona’’, you are probably aware by now that even though Catalonia is a part of Spain, Catalans are proud of having their traditions, and some more traditional Spanish activities don’t necessarily reflect the reality we live here in Barcelona.
One of the things I warn against doing when visiting Barcelona is attending a Flamenco show. That is because not only it is not exactly part of Catalan traditions, but also because most of the Flamenco venues are located in extremely touristic areas (and more often than not you will find a girl dressed up as a Flamenco dancer at the door, giving out pamphlets)
In other words… You can’t get any more touristic than that.
That is why when Mimo invited me to discover her family-owned Flamenco house, I was not sure about how genuine this experience would be. After some initial hesitation, I decided it would be a good experience.
To my mind, as a worst-case scenario, either this would prove to me that Barcelona does not offer authentic Flamenco shows, or I would have a great time and would have a nice place to recommend my readers who are in Barcelona and who would like to appreciate this truly intense dance.
Keep reading this post for my honest review about Tablao de Carmen, Barcelona.
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The Tablao de Carmen is conveniently located at Poble Espanol, (translating into ‘’Spanish Village’’), a small ‘’fake’’ village that was built as an attempt to concentrate the ‘’soul of Spain’’ into a single space. There you will find scale reproductions of real buildings, squares, and streets of different regions in Spain.
In fact, to guarantee authenticity, its creators visited around 1,600 towns and villages around the Iberian peninsulas to choose which buildings would be represented. Super cool, right?
There you will find bars, restaurants, clubs, local artisans, among other activities. It is a great place to go with kids, but also very romantic to go for a romantic evening.
Poble Espanol was built back in 1929 and receives over 1 million visitors every year. With almost 100 years of existence, it is now officially considered a historic element of Barcelona tradition.
PS – There is an access fee to get into Poble Espanyol, ut if you buy tickets to Tablao de Carmen, you get free access.
Tablao de Carmen: a History of Passion for Dancing
Ironically enough, the day we decided to go to the show was also Hispanic Day, guaranteeing a full Spanish feel to our experience. As Cris was in Mongolia at the time, I invited my friend Leti to join me. She’s been living in Barcelona for 8 years and has never been to a Flamenco show in her life, so it was also a great opportunity for her to live this experience.
It was a great Autumn night when we went, not too hot and not too cold. Leti and I had a nice little walk around Poble Espanol before making our way up to Tablao de Carmen and had a chance to enjoy the ‘’village’’ before the show, which was very nice.
(tip: if you decide to go to Tablao de Carmen, be sure to arrive before the show so that you can also have some time to enjoy Poble Espanol. Have a drink or eat something at their various venues).
Upon arriving at the venue, we were greeted by Augustin, who had been waiting for us to arrive. He guided us to a special entrance, where he asked if we knew anything about Carmen Amaya.
‘’Not really’’ we answered, a bit embarrassed by not knowing much about their story.
Augustin then gave us a warm smile while he proceeded to tell us the history of the house: Created back in 1988, Tablao de Carmen has been built as an homage to Carmen Amaya, who was a Catalan Flamenco dancer from Barcelona. In 1929 she was hired to dance in Paris, where she starred in diverse movies, such as the movie Los Tarantos.
He paused the explanation to show us a beautiful part of the movie that he had saved on his phone. While he talked, I could see his eyes shining as he explained to us about Carmen and Flamenco dance in general, and I could really feel how passionate these people were about their business and the history that is comprised.
In fact, various times during his explanation, I felt the hair on my arms raise with goosebumps from his storytelling.
Carmen pursued to traveling the world and soon became a famous international dancer. From there, life was never the same for her: She had the chance to travel the whole world, before returning to Spain in 1947 (11 years after leaving), where she met the owner of the house that now hosts Tablao de Carmen, and soon enough both women became very good friends.
And well, the rest you can imagine.. 😉
Being that I had been before to Flamenco shows in cities such as Sevilla and Madrid, I was not expecting my jaw to drop when I walked into Tablao de Carmen.
The venue is absolutely stunning. It is not large, yet big enough to be comfortable and small enough to be cozy. There are two floors where people were sitting down enjoying their pre-show dinner, and a stage in the center.
There are 4 musicians (usually 3 with instruments and one that will sing), and 4 dancers (usually 3 girls and one guy). The show is divided into two parts. This means that after the first two dancers perform, the lights will once again turn on and people will start chatting once again.
We were guided to our table, where we ordered some tapas and wine. Before the show started, we had a chance to talk while we enjoyed our dinner, which was also nice.
They indicate the show will start when they dim the lights, but don’t feel rushed in case you are not finished with your dinner: you are allowed to keep eating while they perform. In fact, the waiters will be sure to keep your plates and glasses full at all times during the spectacle.
After around 20 minutes, they will once again dim the lights to give continuation to the show.
During the performance, I caught my mouth open various times. I was in awe with how beautifully the reenacted Flamenco. I love how dramatic this dance is, while at the same time delicate.
If you haven’t been to a Flamenco show yet, I urge you to observe their feet, their hands and most importantly, their faces. The combination of drama and pain, combined with melody and sensibility are, to me, what truly makes Flamenco so special.
As if I hadn’t been already impressed by everything so far, they managed to once again surprise me: the food was superb! Nothing like you’d expect from touristic venues (in fact their Iberian Ham was one of the best I have tried in Barcelona, altogether with their delicious cheese platter).
We had a variety of tapas and in the end, we decided to share a Creme Catalana as dessert.
Tablao de Carmen proved to me that it is in fact possible to find authentic Flamenco shows in Barcelona and that you don’t necessarily have to go all the way to Sevilla to be able to enjoy this dramatic dance.
If you are around Barcelona and want to have a fun night out, in a beautifully unique location serviced by a traditional family who are seriously passionate about Flamenco, then you have to give Tablao de Carmen a go.
PS – I liked it so much that I returned with my boyfriend Cris so that he can also live the experience. See below some pictures of my date with Cris enjoying a glass of cava at their private terrace.
Information Worth Sharing
At Tablao de Carmen they offer you two performances a day (every day of the week)
Doors open at 18:00. Show starts at 18:45
Doors open at 20:30. Show starts at 21:15
(all of the below options include the performance and entrance to Pueblo Espanol, VAT included) – Click on the menus to see more details.
- Show + Drink: 45 Euros
- Flamenco Tapas Dinner: 63 Euros
- Carmen Menu 82 Euros
- Star Flamenco Dinner 154 Euros
- Kid’s Menu 39 Euros
Read my Tablao de Carmen TripAdvisor review here.
Take a peak of what to expect here.
Reserve your tickets here.
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