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fire for blood

We, the unruly, with no fixed time for meals and hearts flowing as freely as our blood, wait in the small, dark, hot room for a different kind of feast.

Earlier, you had said, It is no way to live out of suitcases, but words last little. Suitcases are shrugged off as it is suitcases that bring us to each other and cancel the distance between us.

Truth is, we are not unruly. We fulfill every sacrosanct working commitment. Our respective duties, are done. Each, on the other side of the world. Far from us.

In our suitcase-crumpled linen shirts, we now sit, hands laced, in the grassroots gypsy culture theatre for a flamenco show. Nothing touristy. No mid-air flounce skirts, no fiery reds, no bun and highly marking eyeliner.

No olè to the sound of castanets, improbable heels, pirouettes, nonsense neck-breaking moves. Instead — dark clothes, tree-old bodies and tight throats preparing again to loose ancestral cries.

Flamenco has been recognized by the UNESCO as one of those intangible cultural heritages that enrich humanity by feeding brains, speaking to DNA and synapsis. Just like the Italian pizza, Congolese rumba, art of embroidery in Palestine or the School of Living Traditions in the Philippines. And scores of others. Because the root of the concept is that you do not eat a pizza or dance rumba and that is it. You taste, move to history and culture, you honour those who improved our lives, brought us pleasure in ways we do not even realise. Those who allowed us to be here.

The show fed us, wet eyes and awe from the first face-contorting, arm-reaching, soul-baring sounds.

The place formed an idea, a realm of intimacy for the soul. It was modest in the looks but bursting emotions in the art.

A few chairs around a dozen tables, one set for bottles of local beer with the name of a Moorish famous palace, water, candies, a brand of cola.

Lights low.
Behind you a poster, Arts Center — Gypsy Culture and, scattered, other words:

I look at you and hope someday someone will say the same about our work.

Four people on the stage: a guitar player, three singers. Two men and two women. One of them dances almost all through the night.

There are millions of people on the stage. Humanity at large.

Because when the first notes begin to play, poetry opens its veins, guitar virtuosisms of the heart, vocal sounds like imprisoned souls escaping, feet stomping, pito (finger snapping) and hand clapping the primal celebration of release.

A crescendo builds, and it is resilience, sweat, it is ancestral.

It is a gypsy woman answering all the ancient calls, dancing for us, walking for humanity, crying, laughing simultaneously.

A gypsy woman born in a specific barrio (quarter) of Jerez de la Frontera, performing since young at weddings and new births, funerals and festive occasions in front of bonfires, fireflies and shooting stars.

And just the name Frontera tells you the border is the Atlantic Ocean, 12 km away.

Her body assumes the shapes of agony and protest against historical persecution, sucking the oxygen out of the small theatre, while the other two singers just turn sound into tears.

You say, your voice cracking: The woman singer is crying all the pain of the world and we both have red eyes.

The pain, the journey chimes with current refugee camps and those who can’t swim but cross channels and seas, those whose stories we do not care to hear, those beaten between borders we made up to keep them away. Those who wash the last disposable diaper.
Those who boil and freeze in tents.
Those whose feet have walked thousands of miles.
Those who have left everything behind.
The flamenco song and dance tell a story, Songs of Roma people, of stars that guide, journeys that lead, caravans that slide.
There are millions of us in front of her. Her voice runs fast through the world.
I turn to you and manage to say: You have just seen what it is like to have fire in your veins instead of blood.
Fire for blood.




Kelipè is where it all happened
Ours is simply a heartfelt tribute /sharing the link with no affiliation

The husband and wife team behind We Speak Your Heart are published and prize-winning writers. As well as being irretrievably in love themselves, they have a deep respect for human dignity.

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