The Catalan national dance, the lilting, folksy, communal, hand-holding Sardana is the opposite pole to the soulful, exhilarating transport of duende (the 'goblin') supplied by flamenco, with its blood-stirring rhythms, wailing canto jondo, stamping heels and pounding guitars. And a million-plus residents of Andalucian descent living in Barcelona have made this city a flamenco hotspot.
Many of the clubs put on two or even three performances (tablaos) of dancing and singing nightly, either with a drink or with dinner (around €60). All have online bookings.
Among the best known are:
Founded in 1970, this is the oldest and one of the most prestigious, with three performances nightly, as well as classical and flamenco concerts on Fri, Sat and Sun at 6.45pm.
La Rambla 35, metro: Liceu
Contemporary venue, great food and 'the purest Flamenco in Barcelona' (if they don't say so themselves), the Palacio features dazzling, virtuoso guitar- playing and dancing with 15 performers. Three shows nightly.
C/Balmes 139, metro: Diagonal
This lively, ever evolving company, formerly known as Opera y Flamenco offers a classy fusion of traditional flamenco, gypsy, Bizet's Carmen and classical Spanish music. Performances take place in the splendid Modernista Palau de la Música Catalana or in the historic Teatro Poliorama at La Rambla 115.
The Carmen who gave her name to this well-known tablao is not Bizet's heroine but Carmen Amaya, who was born in the gypsy quarter of Somorrosto in Poble Nou and performed for King Alfonso XIII at the opening of the 1929 International Exhibition. Created in 1988, it's a lively showcase of young stars. Reservations allow free entrance into the Poble Espanyol.
Avda. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia 13 in the Poble Espanyo, metro: Espanyol
Tarantos Since 1963 this bar has become a local institution, offering a chance for even the most impecunious to enjoy a half hour dose of quality Flamenco for €10 (booked on line), with multiple showings each evening (including six performances daily in July and August from 6.30-11.30pm).
Plaça Reial 17, metro: Liceu
Image by Melissa Benning