El Tablao de Ana María / David Lerma

Marbella residents fight to save iconic flamenco venue, the Tablao de Ana María

More than two hundred signatures were presented at the town hall to protect a space with "great ethnographic value"

DAVID LERMA

The writer María Luisa Huertas on Thursday (9 June) took a petition with more than 200 signatures to Marbella town hall in support of the preservation of the Tablao de Ana María; an iconic flamenco venue in Marbella which, until its closure on 6 May this year, attracted international attention for authenticity and charm.

The petition isn’t just about the yellow building itself, which is located on the town’s Plaza del Santo Cristo, but also the cultural and identity legacy. "They are erasing our memory", Huertas explained to SUR at her home, which is opposite the Tablao.

With the onset of the pandemic, the premises run since 2002 by Isabel Gago Escámez La Chata, began to face problems. The loss of revenue led to the non-payment of rent. At Huerta’s house, Isabel said she felt cheated. Along with six families, La Chata tried to chat with the owner of premises, but to no avail.

Potential investor

In 2021, Adrian Tony Gilbert, an investor linked to La Fonda de Marbella, close to the Tablao signed a contract of "Collaboration in the management of business premises" with Isabel. Sources consulted say that despite some irregularities, the contract is valid and La Chata says that it solved the debt problem she had.

However, Gilbert discovered in the registry that the property was divided: "That's the reason why he backed out", Isabel, who claims she had no idea either, explains and one month ago she was also forced to leave. "I had been promised help," she says. "We would like to come back.”

Huertas considers La Chata's gypsies to be "like her family" and that is why she has started this campaign. She was accompanied by her neighbours Maripaz, Toñi and María, and a few others who did not wish to be named when she took the petition to the town hall. She recognises that legally they can do nothing, but stresses the "immoral behaviour" and "abuse of trust" of the investor. Meanwhile La Chata and her band continue to perform at the Mercado del Arte, while the future of the venue remains up in the air.

Marbella historian Francisco Moreno described the venue, comprised of two somewhat rundown buildings as, “Two shacks with a lot of history," but added that they have “enormous ethnographic value". He believes that the town hall is unable to intervene. "The Old Town Protection Plan has not been developed. There is no inventory either," he explained. But María Luisa and La Chata plan to continue their fight.