It happened one night at Anselma…

Two years ago, my dear friend Lindsay called me with a journalistic question: How do you write for a guidebook and not make it sound like a 23-year-old party girl wrote it?

You give the job to me, I replied.

Two years later, when the Rough Guides series asked her to update another addition, she did. I’m in the process of revising the flamenco, nightlife, shopping and practical information sections of their Andalucía version, a task I welcomed and looked forward to doing.

Until I went to Anselma.

I gathered my two other married/pareja de hecho friends (ok , I’ll be fair, Lauren is engaged and Mickey is thinking about doing pareja de hecho) and grabbed a tapa from Dr. X in Triana. At half past 11, we took our spots in line in front of one of Triana’s most famous flamenco joints, Casa Anselma. I’d always marvel at all of the people lined up around the block while having my punto-pinchi-chipi-champi at Las Golodrinas. The owner, a singer who never really hit the big time but is friends with Pantoja, Paquirri and the lot of them, overcharges for beer but the show is earthy, long and fun.  figuring the place must be good, we snagged three seats at a table in the second row.

The place filled up so quickly that even the waitress couldn’t move through the crowd. I gave her a 20€ bill for our three glasses of wine before the show began. An old trianero, hair ablaze, strummed his guitar while he and two others played a copla. Two other stood up and requested a sevillanas. So did a drunk American, claiming she could dance. As it turned out, she was just being obnoxious and tried to clap her way out of it. Everyone in the place but us three roared with laughter.

Anselma, feeling upstaged by the guiri, took her place front and center and began to sing a well-known copla, Piensa in Me. She wasn’t outrageously good, but the crowd drank in her attempts to squeeze more money out of the free show. When she sang the namesake, she raised her hand to her mouth as if drinking a mug a beer and pointed with her other to the bar.

While singing another shortly after, a loud crash echoed through the virgin-covered walls. We all turned around, and the waitress had tripped and spilled a gin and tonic on a patron. He had one of those “Me cago all over your favorite Virgin” looks on his face, and the queen of the tablao took it personally. “Hey, she’s mine!” she shouted at sour puss, “If you have a problem I, as the queen of this house, ask you to leave!” The man stepped further into the bar and his friend came to his rescue, “You don’t know how to behave properly in your own business. This is no way to treat clients, and you’re just after the money!” Other clients started jeering and shouted, “FUERA!” until the pair left. I turned around and asked Lauren, how do we get out of here? I expected to have the bar empty out.

No one left. Typical, Spain.

Afraid to get up and leave, for fear she might follow us to the street, we stayed on as she told jokes. No one was safe – catalanes, homosexuals and foreigners were all ripped on. I started to grow more and more uncomfortable, yet couldn’t help but be entertained. Next, it was reported that someone’s wallet had been stolen and the owner did nothing to help. We knew then it was time to go and literally crawled over people to get to the door.

I went and met Kike at a bar on Calle Betis. I offered to buy him a drink, but upon opening my wallet, realized I hadn´’t been returned my 11€ from the drinks. Anselma is out of the guide.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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