May 31, 2024

International flavour of flamenco in “holiday city” Marbella

By W2SFadmin

The clashing of castanets, stamping of heels and swirling of skirts, accompanied by the rhythmic strumming of flamenco guitar, the plaintive tonality of a flamenco vocalist’s song. So far, so Spanish! But wait up – this is a flamenco performance with a difference!

Right at the start of this year’s tourist season, the W2SF team had hopped over to Marbella to delve into the city’s vibrant underbelly and investigate its unique flamenco scene.

What is it that defines Marbella? Sophistication, cosmopolitan charm, glitz and glamour… making it the premier holiday city on the Costa del Sol. Renowned for its diverse expatriate community, Marbella has an astounding array of restaurants offering global cuisines and high-end shops featuring luxury goods from around the world. An international destination with a capital I! A melting pot of cultural influences!

But what about flamenco in Marbella? How international is it? We are about to find out!

Reviewing the various venues on offer, we decide our first experience of flamenco in Marbella will be the weekly Saturday night show by Flamenco Marbella.

The venue’s address is a stone’s throw from the lovely Parque de la Constitución, not far from the opulent Golden Mile, set back from the Paseo Maritimo – Marbella’s stunningly beautiful seafront promenade. It is difficult to find at first, until we notice a small chalkboard advertising the show propped against a wall. This encourages us to venture down some stone steps tucked away to the side of the Eroski supermarket into a lower-level Andalusian-style courtyard.

Here we discover the entrance to a dance hall called La Clave, home of VDA, the Valiente Dance Academy. Later we were to find out that this welcoming dance school is run by Nicolas Valiente and Marisa Cano, a talented dancer couple who dedicate themselves to performing and teaching Latin dances, particularly salsa. With salsa disco nights, salsa, bachata, and tango classes, this is a very happening venue with a super friendly feel to it, a huge nod to the international character of Marbella.

I love arriving at any show early to soak up the atmosphere, secure a good seat, and mentally prepare myself for the performance to come. This night is no exception. Greeted at the door by a mysterious figure in Andalusian costume (our hostess and flamenco dancer Asami Ikeda herself), we are ushered into the dimly lit room which features a spacious wooden dance floor where the traditional tabla chairs are draped with embroidered shawls and set up against the back wall (with floor to ceiling dance studio mirrors obscured by blinds). A useful-looking bar runs down the far side of the room and the other two sides of the square each contain a row of comfortable rattan two-seater couches behind low tables, perfect for your bar snacks and drinks. Front row seats par excellence! Behind these is a second row made up of tall bar stools around small square tables, great for groups of three or more. Excellent view of the performance from every seat!

The venue is filling up, drinks are being ordered and served up by the venue, all very convivial and relaxed. Not unusually for Marbella, the audience is chatting in a variety of languages, and we can hear French, German, and Dutch around us, alongside English. The lighting has been set by the studio technician, the last few checks are made, and the performance can begin.

And what a performance it is! Asami Ikeda is an Andalusia-trained flamenco artist from Japan and like no other. Her dancing is quite an experience. Strong and passionate. Forceful and warrior-like. She strides onto the dance floor in a determined paseo, stamping her feet in a zapateado with the strength of a Japanese taiko drummer. She wields her castanets as if brandishing a Samurai’s sword. Later, she seamlessly transitions into the studied grace and mystique of a geisha. And all this within the constraints and códigos (signals) of traditional flamenco. Her dancing is subtly infused with a cultural heritage and enriched by a cultural significance from a distant land and people.

Alongside Asami we have singer Jasmine Villalobos from London who sings to us with melodious and wistful longing of “Triana” (a picturesque neighbourhood, on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River in Seville, which has deep roots in flamenco history) and gets up onto her feet to perform a few dance moves. Asami and Jasmine both give little introductory presentations in English, both helpful and insightful for English-speaking audience members. Completing the trio is guitarist Jose Antonio Patricio, known as Nene Flamenco(the “flamenco baby”), who both accompanies and plays solo tenderly, soulfully, and with youthful zest.

We can’t wait to visit Asami’s other venue in Benalmadena where she and a variety of guest artists perform a regular Friday early evening gig at Minnelli’s nightclub. This will have to wait until Asami’s return from a two-week flamenco tour to Japan. Taking flamenco back to her own roots in the Far East…!

This show was a lovely, homely and heartwarming experience – so great to see the interaction of different cultural perspectives within a living and evolving art form. Born from a melting pot of cultural traditions including Moorish, Gypsy, and Andalusian influences, to name but a few, flamenco is now further enriched by the dynamic infusion of other heritages, such as those from the far reaches of Japan, or from Russia and many other remote or not so distant landscapes. Through this intermingling, W2SF believes flamenco is developing into a truly global art form: it resonates with the rhythms of diverse and distinctive populations while retaining the passionate essence of its beating, Spanish heart.


Edif. Segovia. Calle Camilo Jose Cela 12, Local 11, 29602 Marbella


Finca Commercial 408, Edificio Iris planta baja, Avenida Gamonal, 6, 29630 Benalmádena

TICKETS: Flamenco Shows and Classes – Flamenco Marbella (