The Belly Dance Guide to Spain
For a country known for cathedrals, beaches, art & bullfighting, Spain is a great tourist destination. However, if you want to experience a more "Hip" adventure while you are there, then HipMix.net has the 4-1-1 on the What, Where, When and How for you.
Certainly Spain has a rich history of dance, particularly the flamenco dances of Southern Spain in the Andalusian region. As you have learned in our History of Belly Dance in Spain, flamenco dance often combined with and influenced belly dance. For example, V International Festival of Belly Dancing on the Costa Del Sol is an Oriental Dance festival held every year since 2007 and incorporates many folk and flamenco dances alongside belly dance. Typically held in Frigiliana, one of the most beautiful white villages in Spain, the event chose this village due to its rich Arab history. Frigiliana is also known as the "Village of 3 cultures" where Arabs, Jews and Christians lived together in harmony throughout history.
Of course, attending workshops is not the only way to have a wonderful experience in Spain. There are many dancers and dance schools that you can contact directly for private sessions or group lessons. Some that come to our minds include Nada Lanteigne from Barcelona, Nadia from Santiago de Compostela in Northwest Spain, and Alexis Garcia from Palma de Mallorca, an island Southeast of Spain.
With high travel season being summer, it's only natural that flights & lodging would be at their peak as well. To have a bit more of a relaxing time - and feel a little less like a vacationer, we recommend booking for spring or fall.
What to expect at the airport:
HipMix.net staffer Kaitlyn shares: "Flying into Madrid, Spain was such a pleasant experience! It had amazing architecture, it was very clean and NOT CROWDED! The only thing I had to get used to were the signs. Instead of the arrows pointing up for you to go straight, typical in the U.S., the arrows pointed down. Ergo, I was a bit turned around trying to locate baggage claim.... and exhausted when I finally got there."
Places to check out besides the known "Tourist Spots":
Yes, it is a must to see some of the wonderful spots in large cities such as Madrid & Barcelona and if you want to know more information about them... well, there's a million sites that can help you. But, we want to introduce you to special Hip places, belly dancing included.
Barcelona: If you're looking for dinner and a show, might we suggest either the oldest Lebanese restaurant in Barcelona, Abou Khalil, or Rincon Persa, a Persian restaurant, that both host belly dancing on weekend nights. However, most Spanish restaurants serve food tapas-style, meaning smaller portions and sometimes higher prices. Forgoing entertainment while you eat, many tourists recommend Omeia Middle Eastern Restaurant, which has generous portions, and excellent service, making even the picky eater happy.
Madrid: Las Mil y Una Noches is a restaurant most often recommended for those seeking belly dance shows in Madrid, with Lebanon dishes and oriental cakes - YUM! Although smoking is forbidden they bend the rules for hookah.
Now, while in Madrid you have to stop at one of the nightclubs, since Madrid is considered the nightclub capital of Spain, if not the world. It may not be your scene, but with a name like Cool, and a drag show where it's tag line boasts drag queens prettier than actual girls, you're sure to meet some characters and dance your heart out.
After all that excitement, why not try something that Dilara is already ready to book a plane ticket to experience. The Thousand and One Night Package at Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid includes a session in the hammam (a steam bath), a relaxation room where you can have a refreshing tea and a 15-minute massage, in addition to an evocative dinner with an oriental dance show. Wine isn't included in the package, BUT it's available.
Insider sources have shared with us that if you are looking for an intimate, boutique-style experience, then you should set your eyes on the Adler Hotel in Madrid. No, it's not a Hilton & that's one reason we are excited about it. You will find all the pampering of a larger hotel located in the center of many wonderful restaurants. Plus, if you need reservations to the flamenco show at the famous El Corral de la Mareria, we hear they can help.
Extra Credit Cities:
Valencia: Try the Moroccan restaurant Teteria La Kasbah in Valencia with belly dancing Friday and Saturday nights. You can also enjoy family-style food at Beirut U, the oldest and most respected Lebanese restaurant in Valencia, with belly dancing Wednesday through Saturday.
Seville: Famous El Patio Sevillano where (for, albeit, a high price) you can see traditional flamenco music. We've heard our own Soraya went there, loved it, and was even invited to show the audience a thing or two about belly dance!
Palma de Mallorca: Sambal Restaurant unexpectedly pairs Middle Eastern with Italian staples, so if you like pizzas and kebabs (though not combined) you are in luck. With mostly local wines, they also offer a belly dance performance once a month, so be sure to check with the restaurant before booking a ferry just to see some belly dancing.
Granada: Rick's Cafe is a tea shop and bar with an Arabic atmosphere in the Calderería Vieja that has belly dance performances. It's just across the road from the Lebanese restaurant Samarcanda, and people recommend having dinner at Samarcanda before heading over to Rick's for an after-dinner drink.
Partying Hip Tip:
If you show up to a club at 9 p.m., prepare to dance solo. Clubs don't start getting crowded until midnight, after people have had their late Spanish dinners. Also, most clubs come with a one-two drink minimum, or a cover that includes a few drinks.
If you want to really go off the beaten path, there's a charming village called Denia. It's 1 hour South of extra credit city Valencia, and more like 4-5 hours from Barcelona and Madrid, but Kaitlyn and others swear it's a wonderful place to unplug and unwind. And finally, the best thing about escaping to Denia, Spain was the laid-back atmosphere, no strict time schedules and the kindness of the local people. Kaitlyn fell in love with everyone she met and even more loved the motto that came with them. "No pasa nada" – which loosely translates to "no worries" or "no problems, it's all good."
Speaking of Valencia, if you're looking for some Spanish history, check out Cementerio Municipal. Yes, it is a cemetery, but Pastor Jorge (Pastor of Esglesia Evangelica Baptista) gave Kaitlyn and her friends a personal tour. He told them of his family’s history and how they broke down the walls (literally and figuratively) between Catholics and Baptists in this small town. There is also a place in the cemetery where you can see gun shots in the wall from a war where Pastor Jorge’s family saved soldiers from death. It’s a beautiful, colorful place with so much loss, but hope at the same time. Also, don’t miss Denia Castle. It was built in the 11th century and sits right at the center of town, near the water. Incredible sight with an incredible history, as well.
If you are up for some adventure, hit Las Rotas. There you will find small caves near a light house facing the Mediterranean. This is definitely an Exclusive Spot for those in the know, only locals & no tourists - yippee! Typically it’s an easy hike but depending on the tide, it could become an adventure. When Kaitlyn went, her group had to climb down some steeper rocks to avoid getting wet and crawl through a beautiful tunnel of trees. It’s only safe to swim when the tide is low, but there’s a place to jump off some big rocks and you can scuba dive. The water was too rough to cross so Kaitlyn sat and enjoyed the view of the sea and the island close-by. We recommend you wear protective shoes and bring your waterproof camera.
Siesta, according to Dilara Sultan, translates loosely to mean - shopper's nightmare. Don't learn the hard way, like our people did. After lunch is NOT the time to plan to shop. Go early, or hit it again around 5 p.m. The upside of the mid-day snooze fest: It compliments the night life well!
Kaitlyn points out that during the summer, right along the beach & streets, there are tons of little shops run by locals selling their homemade items. There’s much variety for a cheap cost, definitely something to check out. These shops are usually open between 8PM to 2AM. She found a great evil-eye bracelet for Dilara and some beautiful hand-made Spanish fans for my girls.
Our Top Must-Do Recommendation:
No matter your travel style, there is one thing that you MUST do every night. Find a spot to sit and simply watch the sunset every night. Why? Because as locals shared with us, "It's a different painting every night." We agree.