In the year 1983, a group of women who were initially denied membership to the Peña Cultural Flamenca de Huelva due to their gender, took a decisive step. They united and established their very own cultural association, giving birth to the pioneering concept of a female-led flamenco “peña.”

Primera Peña Femenina

The all-male peña, whose statutes prohibited the inclusion of women as members, is, in fact, the oldest peña in the province (established in 1972). Their vocal ensemble is widely renowned, and their academies for singing, guitar, and dance – the latter under the direction of Matilde Coral and Rafael el Negro – rank among the most popular. Rancapino, Caracolillo de Cádiz, José Tomasa… and a lengthy roster of other celebrated artists have graced its Viernes Flamencos.

Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, there are no women within its organisation. There were 13 women who chose to contribute to promoting flamenco in their own manner, from their own (non-feminist) peña, drawing inspiration from other accomplished women in flamenco singing, such as La Niña de los Peines. Over the course of their existence, they’ve had as many as 100 members.

For these women who were unable to gain entry into their partners’ peña, being part of a comprehensive flamenco experience was of paramount importance. Some as amateur female singers; all as fervent enthusiasts of the fandangos of their homeland.

Singing fandangos in a female flamenco peña

The special interest in singing of several members would materialise in a group specialising in fandangos and other traditional palos. And this painting will be a success, constantly invited to parties, concerts, tributes, galas and events of all kinds, even outside the capital of Huelva.

Moreover, it has been and continues to be a very active peña in terms of programming activities at its headquarters, holding an annual women’s fandangos competition and having recorded several albums.

A women’s club and a small revolution

By 1988, all the peñas in the provinces, including the one that did not admit them at the time, accepted mostly women. It was in that year when the aforementioned “peña de hombres” invited the girls’ singing group to the “viernes flamencos”. It was the beginning of another way of seeing things, a small gesture full of meaning.

Female flamenco peña in Huelva (Women’s Flamenco Club of Huelva)

Pablo Ruiz Picasso, 11. Huelva