No Passport Needed – A Night of Flamenco in Battersea
There is nothing quite like a good stomp of the feet to get you into the mood. And I see it all around me; how even the most reticent of bystanders give in to the collective pulse that takes over the room. Stomp stomp clap. Stomp stomp clap. Stomp stomp clap.
Here we have all kinds. Flamenco has brought in the crowds, and whilst not everyone knows what to do, they know why they are here. Battersea Spanish has made it clear; this is an evening to celebrate art and culture, together. Have a drink, share a joke, sit back and watch, or just go for it — dance flamenco!
In collaboration with London-based artist Maria Vega, these evenings are the latest offering to the Flamenco scene: a platform for musicians and dancers, as well as a big hug and a warm welcome to all those interested in the Andalusian arts.
At times, as we watch dancers such as Manuel Diaz take to the stage, arching his back and flaring his arms like a bull about to defeat the torero; or hear the longing voices of singers Ulises and Julio, that flow and tumble like a wind rolling over the hills; or try to follow the rapid flight of Adrian’s fingers that tease and tense the strings of his guitar; it feels like here in South London, we’ve stumbled across a peep-hole into the sultry, sweaty taverns of Seville.
The crowd is happy and happy to have found each other. Spanish, Latin American, British or others who, when I ask where they are from, answer; “who cares?” Who cares indeed!
I quickly pop out to take stock of where I am. Suddenly the boat rocks and I remember the Thames is lapping underneath us. It’s a beautiful evening and here we are, on Battersea Barge, moored between Battersea Power Station and its iconic chimneys, nostalgic in their reach for the sky, and the wide, bold, Vauxhall Bridge, cornered by shimmering towers and walls of window panes. Many worlds in this big city.
I return to the deck and speak to Joanna. She’s just moved to the area and wants to learn Spanish with us. I invited her to the evening because; “this is what Battersea Spanish is all about”, I stress; “immersion”. Language lives and breathes like all of us. “It carries culture and it carried you here”, I tell her. “This. Is. Spanish.”