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What Not to Do in Barcelona

by Suzanne Wales

Don't…
Attend a Touristy Flamenco Show

Eat paella and drink sangria if you must, but flamenco is one Spanish tradition that's best seen south of Madrid rather than in Catalonia. If it's polka dots and castanets you want, you'll find no shortage of flyers advertising gigs as you stroll along La Rambla, particularly in tourist season. Trouble is, many of these performances lack the duende—that intangible element that makes seeing live flamenco a magical experience.

Instead…
Seek Out Rumba Catalana

Barcelona's own brand of the foot-tapping style made famous by the band the Gipsy Kings originated in the inner 'hoods (most notably Gràcia and El Raval) with Catalan gypsies. Its style reflects the melting pot of its domain, fusing Catalan and Spanish languages and Latin, Andalusian, and Afro-Caribbean beats with a huge dose of irony. After languishing for a decade or so (the last big Rumba Catalana hit was Amigos para siempre, a 1992 Olympic Games anthem performed by Los Manolos in acid-colored zoot suits), Rumba Catalana is experiencing something of a renaissance, turning up at almost every fiesta in town (particularly La Mercè and the Festas de Gràcia in late August). Or you could try Sala Apolo [2], a lively little music venue that hosts a Rumba Club every week.

Photo: Courtesy of Valentina Borsani

Next: More dos and don'ts around the world >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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