Criticized for Enjoying Flamenco Music?!

That’s right! I’ve been criticized for enjoying flamenco music! And criticized by Spaniards, no less!! Is there anything MORE “Spanish” than Flamenco Music??

All those years living in Ohio, USA, I was listening to flamenco music almost daily, allowing its guitar and vocal sounds to virtually “take me away” to the country I pined for so desperately. Flamenco was part of my “assimilation” process. And now that I live in Spain I actually get criticized for listening to flamenco radio stations like RadiOlé! Can you beat that??!

Generations of Spaniards have been listening to flamenco music on the radio, I suppose, because there was little else broadcast. Now we have more choices, of course. So why would an American living in Spain choose to listen to flamenco music on the radio? Because I like it!!’

Now I feel like if I’m not listening to Spanish or English pop music that I’m “cutre“, “hortero“, or “old fashioned”. I’ve been called “cutre” many many times by Spaniards for choosing to listen to RadiOlé and it always ruffles my feathers. It’s as if I should be listening to the Rolling Stones or Elton John or whatever.

Is it that Spaniards are shunning their heritage because it’s not cool? There must be enough of a following for flamenco music because radio stations like “Radio Olé” are alive and well. I can’t believe that ONLY the gypsy population is the only group of people listening but maybe so. According to some, only gypsies, tourists, and old Spanish women listen to flamenco. Maybe that’s true but today’s standards. I don’t know. I’m inclined to take an opinion poll in the Puerta del Sol and ONLY poll Spaniards – if I could get more than a dozen of them per hour in SOL, that is. Surely I could.

The population in any given Suma Flamenca flamenco festival (every May) performance is, without a doubt, 95+% Spanish in attendance. Is it because it’s art-and-theater and not intended for tourists? Not sure. So it would seem that flamenco performances, at least, are enjoyed by Spaniards. But why if these same people don’t listen to flamenco on the radio or on CD in their homes?

I enjoy Spanish pop like Amaral, Chambao, Ismael Serrano, Jarabe de Palo and the like. But when I’m working or doing the dishes I like listening to flamenco music. Why? I guess because it seems so soulful, so ancient, so down-to-the-roots Spanish music.

Do YOU, a non-Spaniard, enjoy Flamenco Music? Or if you are a Spaniard, why – or why not do you enjoy flamenco music?

 
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11 Responses to Criticized for Enjoying Flamenco Music?!

  1. Sally says:

    I enjoy some Flamenco, I love Flamenco guitar – but sometimes I dont like the moaning wailing voices!! I just wanted to say that it is more Spanish gypsy music than just Spanish music I think. That might be why some Spaniards don’t like it.

  2. MadridMan says:

    You’re probably right. There’s still a great cultural divide between Spanish gypsies and non-gypsy Spaniards.

  3. Diarmuid says:

    Maybe for many Spaniards it has to do with the politics of liking it?
    Because Flamenco was asociated with the typical permitted culture during the dictatorship it is seen as tainted…knowing it´s roots you couldn´t really ever assocate it with right wing dictatorships!!
    Is RadioOlé only music? or news,talk etc as well?
    you seem to know an awful lot about it..fair play..what about Galician or Basque music? are you a fan?? Carlos Nuñez or Kepa Junkera

  4. MadridMan says:

    You’re probably correct that it’s more of a cultural aversion than anything else. One, that it’s “Gypsy Music”, and Second, that it’s the music strongly promoted by the recent Spanish dictator – just as bullfighting was.
    RadiOlé IS just music, they don’t have news but they do, from time to time, interview flamenco artists – which can be very interesting.
    I don’t know anything about Galician, Basque, or Catalán music, unfortunately.

  5. Pingback: Listening to Spanish Radio from Spain | Madrid Blog Spain by MadridMan.com

  6. sp says:

    im spanish from galicia i dont like flamenco music well i like one copla that my grandma usually sings but only for sentimental reasons, maybe its because im not from andalucia but i dont like flamenco-pop either but i like galician and celtic music
    sorry for my bad english.

  7. Larva says:

    Flamenco is not Spanish music but Andalusian music. It’s part of their folkcloric tradition. If you travel from north to south of the peninsula you will notice that traditions, local folcklore, gastronomie and languages can vary a lot. That’s why many northern “spanish” hate flamenco and all the stereotipycal Spanish things that are mainly Andalusian things.

  8. Larva says:

    As other people said If you listen Galician or Asturian music you will notice that have lots more in common with Ireland or Scotland (bagpipes and all that stuff) than with the soutthern flamenco. So all the Celtic folklore in northern Spain is as Spanish like Flamenco..

  9. Ian says:

    It’s because flamenco isn’t culturally Spanish, it doesn’t come from ethnic Spaniards. It came from Gypsies who settled in Spain and fused their own folk dances with the local ones. If you want a better representation of true Spanish dances, explore Sevillanas and Seguidillas. (Although nowadays, especially in the Americas, Sevillanas are often taught simply as a subset or “related style” under Flamenco, and Seguidillas are seldom taught at all.)

    • Ian says:

      To answer your other questions, though, I am an American of Spanish (Spain) descent, and although I like certain aspects of Flamenco, certain aspects of it really irritate me too (the way they sing, and how the dresses can become very overdone and busy at times). I think it’s similar to bullfighting in that it’s become synonymous with Spanish culture, but actually isn’t the best representation of it, at least in the opinion of many Spaniards. Maybe you are criticized for liking it because some Spaniards might see that as an American who appreciates what has become cliched as Spanish culture, and not what they see as “true” Spanish culture.

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