Exploring the fusion of blues in spirited Barcelona
2017-11-15 15:25:00 -
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Deirdre Molloy’s Dance Odyssey

Dance Odyssey is a blog by Deirdre Molloy about a unique opportunity – a sabbatical to travel the world and dance for a year. 

 

Last issue, Deirdre danced on the streets of San Sebastián; this time she’s on the other side of Spain exploring the unique Catalonian culture of Barcelona…

 

What an adventure: encounters with strangers, soon to become friends. There were so many happy moments dancing by night, exploring Barcelona by day.

 

The highlight of the first night was the after-party at Theatre Neu, a cosy two-storey bar with large, airy wooden floors. Dreamy dances happened here. I teamed up with dancers who would be free in the daytime: my lovely Californian roommate Dana, Neil from Bristol, Amy from LA and Mauve from Toulouse. 

 

The next morning, Neil came over to drop off some luggage. As Dana is a masseuse, we had discussed doing exchanges the night before. Massages got the day off to a great start, and set the tone for a warm, physical connection that grew as the weekend went on. 

 

Arm in arm with Dana, we strolled down Las Ramblas, admired a few Gaudi facades, and found a lovely laneway terrace for lunch.

 

There has been a municipal crackdown on the buskers; they still play, but only very short sets before moving on. Barcelona’s al fresco diners are a tough crowd; not even a clap, much less a dance. 

 

While we waited for our food, Neil and I got up and danced to a Latin tune, guitar and voice. The busker was buoyed by our dancing energy and he returned it, with smiles, compliments and another tune before moving on. I danced solo to a gypsy trio, but they were strictly business, only interested in our money. 

 

After lunch we continued rambling Las Ramblas, ending up in the zoological gardens. Neil, Amy, Mauve and I lay in a heap on the damp grass, resting our tired legs.

 

In the evening, Neil went for dinner with Mauve and I found a great little bar. I was lucky to join two other visitors dining there: a dancing couple from Germany now living in Genoa. Later there was dancing till the wee hours, in hot rooms on hard, sticky floors. Not ideal; the first night’s venue was better. But plenty of talent, with many familiar faces from the European dance circuit. People had traveled from as far as Copenhagen, Ukraine, USA and beyond for this festival, Drag the Blues. And a duo called Salt and Soul transported the fusion floor to a place of bliss.

 

The next day, Neil and I met at Park Guell late in the afternoon. Instead of going through the paywall to see the Gaudi mosaics, we climbed the woodland path towards the high ground. We found beautiful views of the city right at the sea – and even better, we found buskers. 

 

The flamenco guitarist with the flying fingers cut a romantic figure, with his back to a stone wall and a serious, almost pained expression. His fingers were burning, but we asked for one more. We danced through a song and applauded him. He applauded us, smiling broadly. 

 

Again he played, we danced... his rhythms were complex and improvised, so we had to be creative and free. At the end of the tune, the guitarist said: “Thank you so much. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me here.” 

 

It was quite an emotional moment. Perhaps we should have given a hug but instead we thanked him, dropped coins in the guitar case, and wished him a good evening.


Blues dancing is a friendly cosmopolitan international scene – Dublin included! Solo dancers are welcome as partners will be provided by rotation. Find out more at downtownbluesdublin.com

d-pict.blogspot.com

 

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