What is a ‘tablao flamenco’? Discover its history!

Tablao Flamenco in Barcelona I History of Flamenco

Do you know what a tablao flamenco is? Everything you need to know for your visit in Barcelona

Palau Dalmases: a tablao flamenco in Barcelona

If you know Palau Dalmases, you also know that besides being a baroque palace it is also a so called “tablao flamenco”. Every day you can enjoy our flamenco show in Barcelona with the best flamenco dancers, singers and guitar players. But what’s a tablao flamenco exactly? What is its history and evolution? We unravel all these curiosities about this magical place.


What does tablao flamenco really mean?

A tablao flamenco is a place where flamenco shows take place with a soecial atmosphere with references to this Andalusian art. It is heir to the old “Cafés Cantante” -Singer Cafés- famous places that proliferated in the nineteenth century. The most passionate flamenco fans usually refer to them as “flamenco temples” and it is not surprising.

The tablaos have contributed to the recovery and maintenance of flamenco, that, as we  already mentioned in the article 5 Fascinating Facts abut Flamenco, was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010. Therefore, they are a very important part of the preservation of this art.

Characteristics of a tablao flamenco

They are called ‘tablaos’, because the stage on which the artists perform is made of wood, a material that offers an ideal sound for ‘zapateado’ (dancing) and also helps to protect the joints of the dancers.

The tablaos are usually small with an intimate and concentrated atmosphere, so that the audience can enjoy each performance to the maximum. In the tablao, care is taken from the distribution of the seats to the lighting. Acoustics are also very important, even in the case of the floor, as this must transmit a quality sound, clean and powerful, to be able to hear the heel of the dancers against the wood clearly, because they are part of the interpretation and percussion of flamenco.

Nowadays, tablaos are still the best places to enjoy this art in its most natural essence.

Tablao Flamenco History I Flamenco in Barcelona

Café Cantante (Seville, 1888) Photography: Emilio Beauchy

The history of the tablao flamenco: from intimacy to the general audience

It seems that the tablao flamenco has always existed, but its origin is relatively recent, tdespite the long history of flamenco. The first tablaos began to emerge in the middle of the 20th century as substitutes for the old Cafés Cantante. These cafés were meeting places and were the first places to offer flamenco shows open to the public, as until then flamenco was restricted to family celebrations or improvised performances in taverns and bars of the time.

The Cafés Cantante were found mainly in Cadiz, Seville and Madrid, although they spread all over the country. These first tablaos served as a springboard for the most important artists in the flamenco star system. Therefore, the great performers of this art have danced at some of the best known tablaos in their time of learning.

From 1910, the Cafés Cantante began to disappear and turned into to other businesses, which were later replaced by the tablao flamenco we know nowadays. In the 60’s the tablao reached its peak, a time when flamenco also became a universal art with Andalusia as the main region of reference.

Tablao Flamenco in Barcelona I History of Flamenco

Why are there tablaos in Barcelona?

How did the tablao flamenco arrive in Barcelona? In the Catalan capital these café were also very popular, reaching seventy-four Cafés Cantante at the end of the 19th century. Even the famous Lice de Barcelona offered Spanish dance shows with the best dancers of the time due to its success.

The 1960s also coincided with a great migration of Andalusian inhabitants to Catalonia, bringing flamenco tradition with them. It is therefore not surprising that some of the city’s best-known tablaos were inaugurated during that decade. Therefore, the existence of flamenco in Barcelona is not a consequence of tourism, but a logical evolution of this art in the city.

Why going to a tablao flamenco in Barcelona is a MUST

As we have seen, tablaos  are part of Barcelona’s history. So they are a key place in your Barcelobna visit. But there’s more!

  1. In a tablao flamencxo you can see how singing and dancing complement each other in total harmony.
  2. It is the best place to enjoy this art in its most authentic and pure state. Furthermore, in Palau Dalmases the atmosphere is totally intimate and you will be very close to the performers.
  3. Flamenco is an art of deep feelings and emotions. It is an intense experience that awakens all the senses and is really worth living once in a lifetime.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the most special and original tablaos in the city. Get your tickets for Palau Dalmases on the web and enjoy the show!