Thanksgiving dinner with new friends from around Uzes may be a hard act to follow. Just leave it to Geoffrey.
As you’ve gathered by now, life around Geoffrey is never dull. Saturday morning, after Thanksgiving, he called to remind me I was invited to lunch.
“There’s an interesting group of people coming over, ” he said in his most inviting tone. Usually Geoffrey starts off our calls with “Bonjour” or something else in French — as if he forgets who he’s calling. This day he started right off in his British-flavored English. “And bring your camera.”
I hadn’t forgotten about lunch, I just didn’t know who was invited to join us. It’s always a different group of his friends and acquaintances. This day must be special if he asked me to bring my camera. He knows I like good stories for my blog.
Walking to Geoffrey’s from my apartment was no small chore this day. The wind was whirling and making the air colder than usual. There’s a wind current called the “Mistral” in this part of France. I’ll give you the details on another blog. It’s a story all by itself.
I bundled up in my new black wool coat and warm scarf, threw on my black and tan hat; then set off to walk the ten minute route to Geoffrey’s. Getting there just in time, I was introduced to a Scottish couple who were joining us, and I greeted Angus (the guitarist from Thanksgiving) and Nandine.
Then the fun began.
In walked the guitarists and the Flamenco dancer.
Watch in full screen to enjoy the video and music
Flamenco in France
If you, like me, wonder about Flamenco in France, its’ easy to explain. The distance between Uzes and Barcelona is like going east-to-west across the state of North Carolina. Music and traditions from Spain simply spill over into neighboring France. Being from the United States, I have to keep reminding myself how close these countries are to each other. The entire country of France is smaller than the state of Texas.
Gypsies did not invent flamenco as we know it, but they certainly played a significant role in its development.
Flamenco dates back to the sixteenth century as a folk art and culture that originated in the Andalusia provence of Spain. Passed on for generations, mostly through the oral history of the poor and oppressed, Flamenco gained public acceptance in the second half of the nineteenth century. The first “cafe cantante” opened in Seville, Spain in 1842. It’s appeal to all classes in society resulted in a rapid acceptance of the music and celebrities of Flamenco. Performers such as Ramon Montoya and Antonio Chacon are still revered today.
After a decline of Flamenco in the early twentieth century, it has found popularity throughout the world today. In the south of France, you’ll find Flamenco guitarists and singers on street corners and in concert halls. Impromptu “jam sessions” can occur anywhere artists meet — in cafes and bars. It’s a tradition that is welcomed and cursed in a town like Uzes. Performers range from talented professionals to beggars who play for tips.