Bar San Román, a flamenco temple in Madrid
Vicente Romero leases a minuscule bar that has become iconic in Madrid’s flamenco scene. It has hosted countless artists, Enrique Morente among them
Browsing the internet, we may come across lists such as The Best Hamburgers in Madrid or Five must-see places in Valencia, and many others like that. Flamenco, designated Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, is no stranger to those peculiar lists. There are many locals and foreigners who, as soon as they arrive in a new city, seek places where they can enjoy flamenco.
In this occasion we travel to Madrid, where we may find charming spots such as Taberna Sanlúcar, Casa Patas, El Callejón de Madrid, Bodegas Alfaro and Al Vicente Copas, better known as Bar San Román. What is necessary to enjoy good flamenco? Do we need a big stage where the artists can perform? The answer is a clear and emphatic “no”.
The protagonist of this article is a case in point: the renowned and almost legendary Bar San Román. Its manager, Vicente Romero, has turned its tiny 160 ft2 area into a veritable flamenco temple in the Spanish capital. It has hosted flamenco stars of the stature of Enrique Morente, among others.
«A unique place that every visitor remembers with fondness. A flamenco sanctuary that fills the nights of Madrid with cantes por soleá and bulerías»
Here at ExpoFlamenco we’ve taken note of this magical place thanks to the excellent article by Juan Diego Quesada at El País newspaper. Many people say that Bar San Román is the smallest bar in Madrid. Its regular clientele is secretive about the place and it’s certainly off the beaten path. «We have to climb down some stairs to arrive at a V-shaped bar», explains Juan Diego in his article.
Its owner is 64 years old and he’s been working in the flamenco hospitality industry for half his life. Vicente Romero opens the bar and starts playing a loop of an extensive collection of the greatest flamenco cantaores in history in a flat-screen TV. It’s a compilation worth its weight in gold thanks to its spectacular anthologies.
The place is small, minuscule. Barely fifteen people fit inside. It’s a true jewel for its clientele. «Vicente is a connoisseur. He’s what we call a flamencolic, because he’s not orthodox, but listening to flamenco twelve hours every day, it’s hard not to become an expert. He has very good taste. He has met many guitarists and cantaores», explained César Suárez, culture editor-in-chief of Telva magazine, speaking to El País.
«I met Morente, Enrique de Melchor, Tomatito and Moraíto Chico. Only Tomatito is still alive. The other three died of cancer. Cancer is the illness of flamenco», ponders a nostalgic Vicente Romero in his conversation with El País.
That the Bar San Román or A Vicente Copas. A unique place that every visitor remembers with fondness. A flamenco sanctuary that fills the nights of Madrid with cantes por soleá and bulerías.