This is why I love Spain.
I walk down Gran Vía with my new friend Daichi and we wonder why there are so many police with their cars and motorcycles blocking the way. We get to the big glob of people and it is truly impressive: people standing on the wide sidewalks leaving only a hair of space to walk through, people standing in doorways and high windowsills—any nook and cranny they can find in the ornate stone buildings that line the thoroughfare. Teenage boys are even packed onto the tenuous roof of a bus stop. Everywhere arms raise digital cameras high into the air, all lenses pointed toward the blue bus that has stopped traffic. Barça’s bus, carrying the team whose players smile from watch and candy advertisements all over the country, the gods of fútbol. Granada is playing with the big boys now, so FC Barcelona has to come to Granada to play during the season. And tonight is Granada’s home game.
But I don’t stop to look, much as I would love to snap a photo of Messi or Davíd Villa or Xavi or Piqué. As we walk away, groups of ambling girls realize what’s going on and break into a run to see if they can catch a glimpse of these heartthrobs. But I can’t stop—I can’t be late for my first flamenco lesson!
Daichi leads me down a graffiti-clad street to a red door. The flamenco teacher, Chua, lets us in and lights incense. With a fountain pen she takes down my name. I feel that I have stepped into a little secret as she leads me and the rest of the class (two girls and Daichi) into the room with mirrors. With the familiar shoes on, my feet happily follow this woman’s dark hair and long skirt in the planta-tacón patterns and the golpes. It is like Ballet Folklórico in the Green Room back at school, except in a Spanish that’s completely different from the language(s) we speak there. And the movement of the hips, and shoulders, and arms, and wrists, and hands… is all so different. And when she puts on the music, a solear, I feel the music and its swellings and ebbings like a language in communication with my feet, and while I stumble in the strangeness, I am so relieved to finally begin to dance with to the strains of Andalucía, to finally move my feet and body purposefully to music again. It has been so long since I danced; I hadn’t realized that I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Dance has made me whole today in a way that surprised me.
And as I leave to go home, I thank Daichi profusely for introducing me to his teacher, since my attempts at finding flamenco classes have met with little success until now. I talk to him in Spanish because we are in Spain, and because it is our lingua franca since he is from Japan and we cannot default to English. I love that I can come closer to Japan through Spain, and I love that I can come closer to Granada through dance.