Ah, Madrid. Spain’s capital city is chock full of shows and experiences, and you really can’t go wrong with what you pick. That being said, no trip to Madrid is complete without seeing these three things: flamenco, salsa, and El Retiro. Make sure you add these to your list of Madrid must-do’s.
Flamenco is the national dance artform in Spain that consists of a guitarist, ballad singer, and a dancer. Female dancers wear brightly colored dresses that are tight at the top and flow out into waves of fabric at the bottom to accentuate the rapid leg and hip movements. The dancing is highly dramatized and emotional, and many dancers maintain a serious facial expression throughout the entire performance. Dancers’ shoes clack in a loud and controlled manner which intensifies the onlooker’s audio experience.
Catch a Flamenco show at Cardamomo, a flamenco club near Puerto del Sol. The club’s ground floor level is dedicated to a bar while the performance occurs downstairs in the snug basement area. The close quarters downstairs make for an extremely intimate setting to watch Flamenco. The walls are made of old stone and while the music gets louder and the feet clack more powerfully, parts of the wall flake to the floor. It gets real up-close and personal when the ceiling starts falling into your iced sangria.
A ticket comes with a drink for 20-40 euros. If you stay at Way Hostel you get a special discount. Check it out here: https://cardamomo.es/?lang=en.
Although it originated in New York, salsa dancing can be seen in lots of Spanish clubs. It is characterized by keeping the upper body steady while moving the lower body three steps for every four beats. You can dance salsa alone or with a partner.
Dance salsa at Discoteca El Son, a Latin dance hall near Puerto del Sol. They usually have a live band or DJ performing salsa and Caribbean music. It’s ridiculous how good the Spanish are at dancing and this club is no exception. The DJ will play a song and all of a sudden strangers will get into formation and start moving their bodies in perfect looks-like-it-was-choreographed-but-no-you’re-just-in-Spain unison. Check it out here: http://www.discotecaelson.com/en.
El Retiro is the perfect place to escape the noise of the city while staying within Madrid. It is HUGE and can easily take a whole afternoon to explore fully. There is a lake filled with couples in canoes, monuments, statues, a glass palace, and little restaurants serving pitchers of sangria. Formerly owned by the Spanish monarchy, the park is now a public space. Numerous fountains and statues turned it into an open air museum replete with trees and manicured lawns.
Changing art galleries are located in the Crystal Palace, a fantastic glass box that looks like something out of The Chronicles of Narnia. The current exhibition featured a myriad of prehistoric animal bones hung from the ceiling, allowing visitors to touch mammoth bones in a palatial space.