Flamenco evenings in Berlin
In a corner of Kreuzberg, last Thursday 13th February, we were able to travel to a unique gypsy Sevilla without needing suitcases or passport. It was the opening of the Jornadas Flamencas in the recently opened bar Faro, at 14 Schlesische Strasse. At 9pm, with a Spanish beer in our hands, we hastened to place ourselves to enjoy the free show offered to our eyes. Live flamenco was performed by Juan Cárdenas and Christophe Bersier, with the evening providing a range of Spanish cuisine, including a bean stew – a relatively unknown-dish called berza gitana. All of this taking place in an environment as festive as it was friendly.
The show itself combined guitar and singing, along with clapping and rhythmic finger clicking from the audience. The passion and energy was performed brilliantly. From the first song we were witnesses of high-quality flamenco, a mix of guitar and singing, though without dancing this time.
The Spanish guitar had an important role, introducing some of the songs and setting the overall beat expertly. Sometimes, it was a lovely accompaniment of Cárdenas’ voice; other times, it performanced a leading role.
The artist on guitar, Christophe Bersier, comes from Switzerland and has played the instrument for more than 20 years. He found himself musically at the age of 19 and he was fortuitously enthralled by this charming couple made by guitar and flamenco. It was a time when it was not easy to find flamenco guitar teachers in Central Europe. Since 15 years ago, he travels to Spain at least once per year to locations as Sanlúcar or Jerez. He has learnt a lot with artists such as Agustín de la Fuente or Gerardo Núñez. A long way which totally worthed. That’s why it is said that although there aren’t many people learning flamenco in this country, the ones who do stay loyal to it forever.
The vocals were performed by the Sevillan artist Juan Cárdenas, a talented singer who has many gigs under his belt. With great expression in both gestures and voice, he sang free and straight from the heart – with the pride and passion of flamenco being felt through his voice by all in attendance. After the concert, we learnt that he comes from La Puebla de Cazalla, a place of provenance for many famous flamenco singers such as La Niña de la Puebla, José Menese and Diego Clavel.
Cárdenas is a shining example of self-teaching. Instead of attending a music school or singing lessons, his only teachers were his love of music and passion. It was never important where he was performing – in the street, a private party, or a crowded festival – as long as he was singing. After moving to Dresden in 2011 he eventually found his way to Berlin, and has also performed in Croatia, Switzerland, Sweden and, naturally, Spain.
Bercier and Cárdenas perform together since around 2 years. Both are part of a sextet group called Konjaleo, which plays in many places. Among them, the capital of Berlin.
Flamenco, a musical style with 200 years of history, is seen as one of the richest genres in the world. It takes its wealth from the many cultures of Spain. As a border country between two continents each culture draws inspiration from the other – contributing to the beauty of the flamenco dance form. It is a dance that shows vehement emotions and theatrical expressions, resulting in a strange and disconcerting beauty. In 2010 it was declared part of UNESCO world heritage, and has more aficionados every year.
The amazing atmosphere continued long after the music had ended, with conversations of many different languages being heard all around the bar and the smell of homemade tapas in the air. There were people from different countries and cultures – a testament to the magic of flamenco as it brought everyone together.
From now on we will be able to celebrate this party once per month in Faro, where, as they did this time, Juan Cárdenas and Christophe Bersier will manage to bring a piece of Seville to this Berliner corner.