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Posing and boasting

I’m often amused by the way some flamenco artists, particularly the newer generation, promote themselves in the social networks.

I’m often amused by the way some flamenco artists, particularly the newer generation, promote themselves in the social networks. The way the do it, apparently leads them to believe that they are great stars. Some probably will never succeed in flamenco, but they could use their skills to do commercials, marketing, represent other artists and things like that. They seldom care about the essence of flamenco, and almost never mention what they like about other artists or about the masters they admire. They don’t realize that all this self-promotion is counterproductive unless they are able to perform well on the stage, because on stage all this marketing nonsense is worthless.

Sometimes they post videos where they dance, sing or play the guitar horribly, “worth throwing them in a pig stall”, to use an expression typical of the town of Villanueva del Ariscal, in the province of Seville, where the great cantaor Márquez el Zapatero was born. Not only that, but those videos (and their sound) usually are of very poor quality, yet once they’re posted they start showing up everywhere, until people get sick of these videos even before watching them. On top of that, they usually caption these videos with things like “Wonderful Performance!”. Such is the art of self-praise and self-review. That’s nothing but smoke and mirrors, though, something artificial, because in reality there aren’t as many new good artists as it may seem, although it’s a fact that there are some very good artists in all areas of flamenco (bailecante and toque).

It’s painful to see how they destroy their own careers, wasting their time promoting themselves instead of looking for professional help, hiring people who know how to make a video, how to design a poster or how to organize a tour. These days I did a bit of cleaning in my Facebook wall, because I’m sick and tired of so much posing, boasting and self-praise. Particularly by the younger artists, because the veterans, who aren’t as numerous, are more discreet with their ego and do things differently.

I miss the days when flamencos were artists on the stage and off the stage too. You could see Fernanda de Utrera or Juan Valderrama buying bread on a bakery and they would look great, always taking good care of their image, not forcefully, but in a natural way, with elegance and style. They didn’t fool anyone, particularly themselves, thankfully. They were leading stars because they were true stars. They would certainly promote themselves, their shows and their albums, but always taking care of every detail, of their image, of their public relations.

Call me old-timer if you wish, but Marchena would never wear country boots going to the theatre to watch a friend’s performance. He was definitely self-centered, but his elegance and wisdom were outstanding. We obviously don’t know how he would behave if he were on Facebook or Twitter, but I’m pretty sure he would not upload poor-quality videos or out-of-focus pictures. Not only Niño de Marchena, but even Manuel Torres, who might come across as scruffy, took good care of his image. One night, invited to a party in Seville, at La VinícolaAntonio Chacón, 11 years his senior, reminded him to dress well, because it was a high-class party, to which the gypsy genius replied, “Have you ever seen me dress like a hobo for a party?”.

Translated by P. Young


Arahal, Sevilla, 1958. Crítico de flamenco, periodista y escritor. 40 años de investigación flamenca en El Correo de Andalucía. Autor de biografías de la Niña de los Peines, Carbonerillo, Manuel Escacena, Tomás Pavón, Fernando el de Triana, Manuel Gerena, Canario de Álora...