From the street to the stage: urban flamenco conquers the world
The so-called "urban flamenco" has landed with force in our lives as a reflection of a new crossbreeding to which flamenco art is subjected from time to time. The question we ask ourselves in this report is what is different about this style and if the success of figures like the singer Rosalía could fit among the lovers of this art.
From its humble beginnings in the streets of Andalusia to its elaborate performances in the most spectacular theaters, flamenco has proven to be a vibrant and exciting art form that continues to evolve over time. As a result of its constant cultural presence, resistant to the passing of the decades, its music has been blending with other artistic styles with which it has had to coexist. And just as one day the Catalan rumba made a place for itself at the hands of Peret or El Pescaílla -or Estopa, if we navigate in the most current music-, urban flamenco, fusion with rap, trap and reggae, with names like Rosalía or Original Elías at the head of this phenomenon, looks like it is here to stay.
Recent Billboard cover featuring a stunning Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro
Where does urban flamenco come from?
Let's go back to the beginning. Flamenco is a unique art form distinguished by its complexity and emotional intensity. Flamenco music and dance are based on a complex rhythm played on a Spanish guitar, primarily, while the dance is known for its energy, passion and precision. It is also characterized by its singing style, full of emotionality, and its ability to convey both the pain and joy of life. Flamenco is divided into several different styles, each with its own history and unique characteristics. And then we come to urban flamenco (palos flamencos), with its specific dance techniques and music that make up a style of its own.
In this highly topical music, traditional flamenco is combined with elements of more modern music. And although it may sound very innovative in this 21st century (Rosalía stated when she released her second album in 2018: "I feel that the music I am making is very experimental and very radical"), its origin could be placed in the 70s, when gypsy rhythms were united with funk and disco in the proposals of groups such as Las Grecas or Los Chorbos.
In 2017, a trap and flamenco festival called Urban Gypsy Jam was born, which concentrated in different Madrid halls flamenco of gypsy origin with clownish musical tendencies, or so its promoters described it. Until 2022, they have repeated dates with this urban flamenco every year. For 2023, there is no calendar yet.
An uncertain future?
For many, urban flamenco artists are bringing the dance to new audiences and helping to keep the tradition of flamenco alive in the 21st century. Over time, urban flamenco is likely to continue to evolve and adapt to the changing tastes of audiences around the world. But like all trends, we have to wait until the excitement of it being in vogue wears off to see if it catches on or if it remains a passing fad.