National Geographic : 1988 Jul
by its commercialization in floor shows called tablaos; these count on dramatic lighting, amplifiers, and curvaceous dancers to attract larg er audiences. Sacrificed in the process is flamenco's hallmark, its duende: soul. But a night owl can still sampleflamenco puro when Gypsies gather at Jaime Heredia's bar, La Fuente, in Granada's Albaicin for a misa de doce, literally a "midnight mass," slang for a flamenco bash. Well after midnight young Bautista arrived with his guitar, the sign for Jaime to close up shop and aficionados to gather. A small, broad shouldered man in sweater and jeans, Heredia didn't look "flamen co." Where was the flat hat, the bolero jacket, the high-heeled boots? No matter. The guitar starts to ripple. Snapping fingers pick up the beat of afandanguillo,and Jaime's voice lights up the darkness: A chorus of children's laughter Flows past an unseen river Bittersweet strainsrecall aformer love. The guitar fires another fusillade of minor chords, stopping every one in mid-drink. Jaime presses his hands together. Sweat gathers on his brow, veins on his neck bulge, and the powerful voice again stabs the room, a "deep song" of Gypsy anguish. The words, stylized, blurred, are lost to my untrained ear, but closing my eyes, I hear an Egyptian chanting from his minaret. What about the lyrics? I pressed Jaime when the session finally broke up. It was daylight now, and regular breakfast customers were already demanding their coffee and brandy. "Not easy, sefior," Jaime apologized. "The song is about love and death and God-ah, but no one could understand who was not suck led at a Gypsy mother's breast."