Inspired by Jason Webster's novel of the same name.
Duende, if you look the word up in an English/Spanish dictionary, depending on the size of the dictionary, it will most likely read, fairy or wood-nymph. This is only half the story, it also means spirit or soul as you would read in the larger books or online dictionaries. In Flamenco terms it means much much more, it is a state of mind when the performer/performers and the audience reach a plane of understanding with each other. It transcends the normal emotions felt at a musical performance, it is when everything clicks together, where everyone is drawn into the emotiveness of the performance. It is a word that is hard to articulate to anyone that has never felt it. As a performer though it is what you always aspire to, to draw all in the room into your world of pain or joy. An example, though probably apocryphal, the singer Camaron de la Isla when asked to sing something by way of an audition for a night club, merely counted out numbers, but such was the wracking pain in his voice he was hired. That is Duende! It is something that must be felt by the performer, before it can be felt by the audience, no amount of technical knowledge or practice can make it happen, it must be wrenched from deep within you. You must be willing to lay your soul bare, to live the song or the dance without inhibition, to draw your audience and fellow performers along with you. So that brings me to why I'm sitting in the main hall of El Ecole De Baile Tradicional in Granada with my guitar on my knee. Sitting waiting. For the third time this week, waiting! First though, before I go any further, I'd better tell you why I'm even in Granada. I had more than a little luck on the National Lottery, which enabled me to take a year from work, and follow in the footsteps of Jason Webster's novel. That was three years ago, and I'm still in Spain trying to learn Flamenco guitar. Having made friends with some gypsy musicians, and playing the odd tableau with them, I fell into this role a human metronome for their cousin Erendira Dominguez the proprietor of the dance school. It was not a role that inspired me to be honest, but it is very hard to say no to Erendira.
She made it plain from the outset that I was there only to play the rhythm for her dancers to follow, no frills. My job was to hammer out the three beats to the bar chord pattern, no more no less. I had to supply the platform from which the dancers could fly from. That was the idea anyway. Today though, I just sat waiting for Erendira's star protege Eva. Eva was of middle class upbringing, what her family would have made of Erendira's gitano cousins I wouldn't like to guess. If asked, Erendira always admitted to her gypsy background, but for business purposes it was not something that she openly advertised. Gitano's are still more or less looked down upon, and distrusted in Spain, as in most other European countries. So for all her pride in her family and her background it was something that she tended to keep quite about, more so with the parents like that of Eva's than with her students. She also had problems with Eva's parents and their almost unerring confidence in their daughters ability, because they paid well, but also because Eva was indeed well blessed with technical ability. That however was as far as it went, for although you could watch, and enjoy Eva's dancing, there was something lacking. Eva always seemed to be holding something back.
Yes the moves were all there but she lacked something, her mind and body were in it, but her soul was lacking. Also like her parents, Eva had an over confidence in her ability, as far as she was concerned she was already the finished article, and as such looked upon her extra one to one lessons as an impingement on her valuable leisure time. So as was becoming the norm with these lessons, Eva swanned in a quarter of an hour late, and dressed for a night club, even though it was two o'clock on a Saturday afternoon. When I say she swanned in that is exactly how she moves for all her lack of height, she carries herself the same way as Madonna giving the impression of a tallness that isn't there. Also she gives of an aura of self confidence bordering on arrogance, it was only a matter of time till she and Erendira clashed.
"Hey girl, what time do call this?" Erendira demanded of her student.
"It's no problem, I'm here now, I'll just get changed." Eva replied in her usual couldn't give a toss manner, then added. "It's no big deal, you get paid anyway, even if I don't turn up at all!"
At that final comment as she left for the changing rooms, I noticed a thundercloud pass across Erendira's face, and felt there and then that today was going to be a long afternoon. As we waited for Eva getting changed, I busied myself by pretending to be checking my guitars tuning, as Erendira stalked about the room. Eva eventually emerged dressed in a frill-less black practice skirt, and a plain white t-shirt plus the standard Flamenco plain black shoes.
"At last!" Erendira said, with more than a little impatience in her voice. "We will start with a Sevillanas to warm up with!"
I started to play out the fast happy compras to the folk dance, and Eva... Well Eva sort of danced, it was in the same manner of a ballerina on a music box, it looked like a dance fair enough, but it also looked clockwork. So I played a little louder in the hope of stirring her, but her mind was obviously elsewhere, it was certainly not with us in the room.
Just before the third pattern of the dance, Erendira called us both to a halt. "What was that? It wasn't anything that I could recognise!" Shouted Erendira.
That was it, Latin blood was boiling. As both teacher and pupil got into a heated argument, both screaming at each other in Spanish, their southern accents and clipped words flying out too rapidly for me to translate in my head. I sat there as an embarrassed, bewildered bystander, until Erendira uttered a phrase that I knew off by heart, but hadn't had a chance to use in all my time in Spain.
"Te pegare en el trasero!" (I'll smack your ass!) My eyebrows raised at this phrase, they now both had my full attention, as they stared wide eyed at each other.
"You would not dare gypsy girl!" Sneered Eva.
Erendira breathed deeply at this latest showing of lack of respect by Eva, her now cold glare too much for Eva to hold, as she looked to the floor, and in so doing giving Erendira the upper hand.
"Get changed, go home and don't ever come back to this school again," said Erendira, "or go across my knee and I will hammer some manners into you. The choice is yours!"
To my surprise, and I must admit also to my amusement, Eva instead of flouncing off to the changing room she said. "Please... I am sorry. I want to stay."
Faced by a now repentant pupil, Erendira merely went to the side of the small dance floor and picked up a plastic chair, brought it back to the middle of the floor and sat down.
Erendira motioned to her lap by way of invitation for Eva, slowly the nineteen year old made her way towards Erendira, then draped herself across Erendira's lap. From my viewpoint directly behind, Eva's ample bottom seemed to swell out under her practise skirt as she got into position for her upcoming chastisement, it was all so surreal in this the most surreal of countries.
As I stared on in disbelief, Erendira reached down to the hem of Eva's skirt and started to pull it clear of her olive tanned legs, then over her bottom revealing a tiny pair of bright red panties.
"Ah good!" Erendira said. "I'll stop when your bottom is the colour of your panties, red a good colour for an aspiring Flamenca!"
To my amazement Eva did not even whisper a word of complaint, she just lay there waiting for Erendira to start. She did not have to wait for long. Erendira's hand came down onto Eva's bottom in a harsh flurry of smacks. Do not underestimate how hard an enraged Flamenca can spank, all those hours of clapping out rhythms make for good spanking practice!
In no time at all Eva was squirming and squealing in the pain that Erendira's hands were providing. Not that that made a blind bit of difference to Erendira, all she was interested in was the colour of Eva's cheeks, and matching those cheeks to those panties. Now in my role as a human metronome it was quite normal for me to see flashes of the students underwear as they danced, that is the nature of Flamenco. However to see a prolonged display such as this, well that is to say the least, very unusual, so I was glad of the guitar on my lap shielding my groin and the now full erection that I had at this most unexpected of tableau's.
After what seemed an age to me, and I imagine what seemed like a lifetime to Eva, Erendira started to slow down her onslaught upon Eva's buttocks.
"A few more I think, then we should have the right colour!" Erendira said to no one in particular.
"Si.. si... profesora!" Eva managed to say, almost sobbing now at the heat in her bottom.
Finally Erendira was happy with the colour of Eva's bottom, and she helped the tearful girl back to her feet. "I think that is today's lesson well learnt, don't you?" She asked Eva.
"No... I want to dance, I want to prove to you that I do care... please let me dance for you now." Eva said between sniffs, wiping at her eyes.
"OK." Erendira replied, the request taking her by surprise.
"Tomas, an Alegrias!" Eva shouted over to me, then added. "Please."
I started playing, and Eva started dancing. Then Eva started improvising steps, I followed her guide, the two of us were locked in the same groove. It was as if I had a telepathic link with Eva, and her with me, my remit of only hammering out the beat went by the wayside as I to started to improvise my way through Eva's dance. I glanced at Erendira, the slight smile on her face as she watched transfixed by her star pupil's dancing.
All three of us together, all three of us in one spirit, that is Duende!