Behind the Red Door: La Carboneria
Behind the Red Door: La Carboneria Sevilla Reviews
Great flamenco bar Nov 12, 2010
La Carboneria is a very good and well-known flamenco bar in Sevilla. While other flamenco shows might require tickets, this place does allow you to see the flamenco for free, but you pay for the drinks of course! The shows are on everyday, and start around 11pm and last around 1-1.5 hours in total. The bar also has a good reputation for showcasing lesser known acts in order to give them their first taste of show business.
The location is not far from Sevilla Cathedral, maybe 5-10 minutes walk if that, but make sure you take your map with you as it’s not that obvious. Furthermore, when you get to the bar, it’s not that obvious either - it’s just a big red door and you almost have to go in and make sure it’s the right place!
The bar has a great atmosphere and attracts a cool mix of people. The drinks list is extensive, sensibly priced and the bar staff are approachable and friendly too. The bar gets quite busy on weekends (surprise surprise!) so I recommend pitching up around 10pm just to get a decent seat.
Photographs are allowed, but video making isn’t.
This was a lovely place to visit, and a great introduction to flamenco. I highly recommend it to anyone and would definitely go back there when I am in Sevilla next time.
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Feb 05, 2008
The following is an article I did for Eurobookings.com. Hope you like it!
Behind the Red Door: La Carboneria in Sevilla, Spain
Hidden among the meandering cobble stoned streets of Sevilla, a meeting place awaits for those seeking a healthy dose of true Spanish tradition. Here, young and old, locals and tourists alike congregate every night of the week short of Monday, drawn by the allure of a truly intimate flamenco experience. No sign is needed; a large crimson oak door beckons the attention of passersby. Yet somehow, if you’re not looking for it, you could almost miss one of the true gems of this romantic metropolis.
Inside, the anteroom is dominated by an immense fireplace which, on a winter’s night such as I encountered during my stay in the city, provides a welcome respite from the chill. This is caddy corner to a full service bar that’s regularly busy. The towering ceiling is most surprising considering the unassuming exterior of the building but, on any given night, the atmosphere remains cozy due to the throngs of people standing and sitting shoulder to shoulder.
There are two performance areas: the original, wood and brick front room and the more modern add on at the rear. Arrive early, go straight to the back room and get a good seat at one of about half a dozen large picnic style tables. The acts here showcase flamenco at its purist with guitarists and rhythm clappers, or “las palmas,” accompanying fleet-footed dancers on a raised hard wood floor.
The performers vary from night to night, ranging from stern faced and stoic professionals, to local matriarchs dancing the traditional Sevillana. Even when seated towards the rear of the relatively spacious room, you’re never far from the deafening stamps of the dancers or the infectious expressions of the guitarists.
After the show ends here, grab a tinto (red wine and soda) from the bar and find a space on one of the benches of the front room. More varied acts appear here shortly after the back room lets out, and there’s a very limited amount of seating, so be quick.
On stage, a piano sits beneath an ornately carved wooden structure that appears to be a flue, possibly a remnant of the building’s former service as Sevilla’s coal merchant. I was witness to two very enthralling acts during my visits and left with a smile on my face each time. The first was a classic pairing of female vocalist and nimble fingered Spanish guitarist. The sound and very presence of this seemingly sparse arrangement managed to fill the room from wall to wall. I couldn’t help simultaneously being awed by and falling in love with the sheer musicianship and the singer’s charming aura that made me feel that, despite being in a foreign country, I was at home.
On two separate occasions, I was lucky enough to catch Sevilla’s (and possibly the world’s) only flamenco pianist. A fiery young man in his early twenties and clad all in black, he took his craft very seriously. He set the room alight with blazing runs and worked the crowd with all the flair of two dueling pianists rolled into one. He even dropped a few freestyle flows.
This is just a snapshot of the La Carboneria experience. A visit there is compulsory if traveling to Sevilla, as it is one of the last bastions of true flamenco at a reasonable price: free. Plus, the very speakeasy vibe of being able to find the red door of Calle Levies, deep in the labyrinth of the Santa Cruz neighborhood, will make you feel just a little cooler than the average tourist.
Where tourists and Sevillanos meet for a night of Flamenco Jul 11, 2008
If you're looking for flamenco, you've come ot the right place. As you push past the obstinate red door, you enter the front room of La Carboneria, which is enclosed with a high ceiling, the many picnic-style tables warmed by the glow of a fireplace. There is a stage which offers many different types of acts, and you can choose to either take a seat in this more intimate setting, or proceed to the back room, which is larger (and louder), has two levels of long tables and benches, and a bar. Get here early, especially if you are with a big group of people, since many tourists and Sevillanos visit this flamenco haven every night.
There is a small stage and the nights I went there were two guitarrists, a two male singers, and a woman dancing in full polka-dotted flamenco livery, but I have heard it varies.
Some advice: be respectful. It almost goes without saying, but unfortunately one of the nights I went there were a bunch of tourists from a travel group who would not refrain from talking, laughing, and making disrespectful remarks about the female dancer, who was a bit fuller-figured. One of the male singers had to tell them multiple times to stop talking or take it outside (as well as to stop smoking during the performance), and the woman actually stopped dancing and looked like she was going to kick some major tourist ass (which would have absolutely have made my night if she did!). So yes, most well-traveled people will know to be respectful in these situations, but to those who don't, just a piece of advice.
It's smokey in there due to the many human chimneys (which I found abundant in Spain - not sure if they've banned smoking indoors lately), but there is an outdoor patio you can escape to as well. Or if you've had your fill of flamenco for the night, take a stroll through the winding narrow streets lined with tall buildings and see where you end up.