Its popularity was shown once again this week when the Instituto Cervantes London was inundated with requests for places at a special preview screening of the film Spanish Steps: Flamenco in a Foreign Land.
This documentary pays homage to the pioneer flamencos who staged shows in London’s bars and restaurants from the 1950s onwards, paving the way for artists and aficionados alike to enjoy the thriving flamenco scene that is now so firmly established here.
These pioneers included both British amateurs and Spanish migrants escaping life under Franco, and many of the events were informal affairs, often in the basements of unglamorous Soho bars.
Nowadays flamenco is taken more seriously by London’s cultural establishment, with the annual festival at Sadler’s Wells and frequent events at other leading venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, as well as more informal concerts such as the monthly España on Fire at Ronnie’s Bar, upstairs at the famous Ronnie Scott’s. Then there’s restaurants including the well-known Costa Dorada in Hanway Street, the London Peña Flamenca . . .