"Where am I going to go? I want to be here, where I have always been"

Taberna Flamenca Pepe López.
Taberna Flamenca Pepe López. / SUR
  • The flamenco 'tablaos' provide employment for a large number of artists, but now they have nowhere left to perform

They call him Javi of El Jaleo, "because I have been here for more years than the door has," jokes this guitarist. He is 51 and has worked at Taberna Flamenca Pepe López, formerly called Jaleo, for 36. Until early March, that is. "Now I have spent four months with no income at all," he says, this time sounding serious.

Javier González lived on what he earned from the tablao. In a sector in which stability is noticeable for its absence, he was able to make a living with no need to look for extra work in clubs or at festivals.

"I have travelled all over the world and played for a great many people. But it's comfortable working in a tablao, where you have everything you need. And where am I going to go? I want to be here, where I have always been," he says.

At the moment, there are few other options, as Salva Cortés is also aware. He combines his work at Pepe López with performances with the Antonio de Verónica and Saray Cortés company. Apart from the provincial government's 'Flamenco para enmarcar' programme at the Centro María Victoria Atencia, there are very few places to perform. Most summer festivals have also been cancelled so there are very few events on the calendar. "And an artist can't eat on two or three shows a month," he says.

That's why dancer Moisés Navarro feels "privileged". He works two days a week as artistic director at the Tablao de los Amayas, with his sisters Fátima and Amara. He used to be there every day, but "the way things are at present", he feels fortunate. He was excited about reopening after lockdown, but feels scared and uncertain about what is to come.

"We are not expecting things to get much better until next year," he says, and warns that things could get worse with the proliferation of online festivals. "We're not doing this right. It isn't in our interests. Shows need to be performed live," he insists.