Guardian.com–Spain’s gastronomic maridaje – the marriage of food and wine – is a definite threesome in Jerez de la Frontera, where all life is fuelled by sherry and tapas, but marches to a flamenco beat. The annual flamenco festival is its peak – not only for larger ticketed events, but also for free performances in thepeñas (social clubs), tabancos (old-style bars), and late at night in the plazas. In fact, all the city’s many festivals and ferias are accompanied by a flurry of flamenco activity – it’s just that, rather frustratingly, it’s not easy to sweep in and locate it.
Several of the tabancos actually have regular, scheduled events (and flyers for one-offs elsewhere). Best-known, and popular with locals and tourists, is Tabanco el Pasaje (C/Santa María 8) where guitarist and singer face the cramped bustle from Thursdays to Sundays. Another good option is Tabanco el Guitarrón de San Pedro (C/Bizcocheros 16) with performances on Saturday afternoons, participation flamenco on Sunday nights and, amazingly given the tight space, a cadre (guitars, singing and dancing) on Thursday nights.
As Mireia Dot Rodriguez, the tabanco’s co-owner, points out: “Flamenco is something you feel on your skin, in your senses, not watch from a distance.” So that’s all right. The peñas are home base for many of today’s flamenco greats, and it’s worth passing one of the bigger ones over the weekend to see if it’s open. Try Centro Cultural Don Antonio Chacón (C/Salas 2) or Peña Flamenca Los Cernícalos (C/de Sancho Vizcaíno 25) in the Gypsy barrio of San Miguel.
More on Guardian.com: Jerez de la Frontera: What to See