Flamenco By The Bay

On The Corner Masthead


March 8, 2016 | by Rebeca Mauleón

Los Flamencos de la Bodega

San Francisco has been a flamenco town since the late 1950s, when plenty of “wayward” dancers and musicians flocked to the City’s North Beach district to find a hub of activity among beatniks, poets, and jazz musicians alike. One of the most cherished of venues for over three decades was the Old Spaghetti Factory, home to Las Cuevas (the caves), a cozy bohemian room that showcased some of the greatest flamenco the City has ever witnessed. The line-up would vary from night to night, eventually becoming branded as Los Flamencos de la Bodega, and would highlight the diversity of San Francisco’s flamenco community, a conglomeration of Mexican, Asian, and North American performers with a few native Spaniards thrown in for good measure. In addition to the more informal, jam session atmosphere of Las Cuevas, San Francisco has seen a range of styles and approaches to the art form, with artists often categorized as either purists, modernists or fusionists.

Among the celebrated artists who planted flamenco roots in the Bay Area were native Spanish dancer Cruz Luna, who established the Casa Madrid in North Beach (in 1960) following a run on Broadway in the hit production of Olé Olé, Adela Clara, who founded the long-standing Theatre Flamenco company in 1966, gypsy dancer Rosa Montoya, artistic director and founder of her Bailes Flamencos dance company in 1975, and soulful singer Isa Mura, whose daughter, Yaelisa, continues the evolution as artistic director of her own award-winning company, Caminos Flamencos. For over five decades, the Bay Area has had a vibrant community as devoted to preserving the art of flamenco as any other, with no shortage of innovators along the way. Into the 21st century, the Bay Area continues to cultivate new generations of dancers, singers and guitarists, and SFJAZZ is proud to have presented the world’s finest, cutting edge flamenco artists – including Paco de Lucia, Vicente Amigo (who performs at SFJAZZ on October 11-14) and the Bay Area's own Caminos Flamencos.