Thanksgiving dinner with new friends from around Uzès 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 would have been special if he had 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, and then walked ten minutes 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.
The guitarists and the Flamenco dancers walked in.
Watch in full screen to enjoy the video and music.
Flamenco in France
If you, like me, wonder about Flamenco in France, it’s easy to explain. The distance between Uzes and Barcelona is like going east to west across North Carolina. Music and traditions from Spain simply spill over into neighboring France. Being from the United States, I must 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 originating in the Andalusia province of Spain. Passed on for generations, mainly 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. Its 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 the decline of Flamenco in the early twentieth century, it has found popularity throughout the world today. In southern France, you’ll discover 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 welcomed and cursed in a town like Uzes. Performers range from talented professionals to beggars who play for tips.