Lunch at La Cruz Blanca

One of the nice things about the cities we have visited in Spain is that Sundays seem to be for families. This Sunday in Jerez was no exception. The days have been a little cool, particularly in the mornings. On Sunday we waited until late morning before going out. While we walked, we observed many families with children of all ages. [No, not every family had children of all ages. That would be unlikely.] Many were dressed up, as if they had come from church or were out visiting. All the way down Calle Larga we had to dodge around family groups. As we got about halfway down C. Larga on our way to a concentration of restaurants, we heard music coming from Plaza del Banco. Being in no hurry at all, we wandered over and found a brass band playing on the bandstand. Despite the somewhat cool conditions, many of the chairs around the bandstand were occupied and people were standing around the plaza watching. I took a video so you could hear and see the band. I thought the music was a slow version of some music by Kurt Weill—but I am probably wrong.

As we left the plaza, the familiar discussion of where we should eat continued. This is tricky for us because I’m limited in what I like and don’t like to experiment much. What we often do, as we did on Sunday, is go past many of the restaurants in the area where we have eaten before and examine the menus again (and again). We almost always end up with a good compromise and this time we ended up at La Cruz Blanca. The weather was still cool, but we decided to sit outside in the sun. Patricia negotiated a table for us even though it was marked “reserved.” Service was good and we found the right combination of dishes to share and for our individual tastes. All around us on the street and in the dining area were families, often multigenerational, and we enjoyed the people watching.

I have often commented about the cultural advantage kids have growing up in Jerez (or anyplace in Spain which claims to be the birthplace of flamenco) being surrounded by flamenco. At the table next to ours I saw a great example of that. A couple of buskers set up not far from us and began playing flamenco and singing. At the table were parents with a baby in a stroller. The baby could barely sit up. As soon as the music started, the mother started doing palmas in front of the baby’s eyes and then helped the baby clap. In another minute, she turned the stroller around so the baby could see what the buskers were doing. No wonder flamenco is so popular here!

In the evening, we hiked to the furthest of the performance venues: Atalaya. It is only a 15 minute walk, so it is no big deal. We had a performance there at 6:30. As we went in to the venue, we felt a few raindrops. [Foreshadowing]

The performance, as they say, was interesting. It was a show by José de los Camarones (José Galá). He is a long-time performer of the art of flamenco. I think he may be best-known for incorporating flamenco with other forms of music.

Camarones y compañia

When the artists entered the stage, we wondered if we had come to the right place. The first person wore a leather vest and carried an electric guitar (¡horrors!). The next person wore jeans and carried an electric bass (¡¡double horrors!!) A horn player, a percussionist in torn jeans! Had we come to a rock and roll concert? Well, yes, sort of. The whole performance was an outstanding mix of musical styles but all revolving around flamenco. Camarones himself sang and performed with great enthusiasm and lots of activity. Think Mick Jagger of 10 years ago.  He spoke with the audience throughout and personalized the performance. I could not follow all of it but he was telling “my story.” At one point he told a joke and I did get “you Jerezanos are slow” when laughter was slow in coming which was another joke since he is a Jerezano himself. The show–Tenlo por cuenta–was lively and interesting if not exactly what we anticipated

La Moneta and cast after Vinculos

The performance we saw was the premier of Vinculos Compañía La Moneta – Festival de Jerez  Fuensanta Fresneda Galera (“La Moneta”) is from Granada. She was the only dancer in the show but she was accompanied by excellent musicians with the typical guitar and percussion but also clarinet and saxophone. She made innovative use of the clarinet and saxophone which she integrated into her baile. She danced, essentially nonstop, for over an hour. I wish I could describe to you the passion, grace, power, and emotion she transmitted to the audience, but, like the Sara Baras performance, this had to be experienced. The audience applauded her and her company long and loudly. This was another impactful expectáculo.

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