Blog Culture Hastings Spain

A Night of Flamenco: Jesus Olmedo & La Kati – review

I went to see Jesus Olmedo perform at the Kino Teatr last month. A graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Madrid, he is now working across the globe and runs a collective in London called Flamenco Soul – live shows combining ‘cante jondo’ (traditional song) with Spanish guitar and flamenco dancing. He rose to fame as Pippa Middleton’s flamenco teacher on the back of this article she wrote for The Telegraph.

First up: Flamenco guitarist Adrian Sola who just sat down and started to play. Following a big bang – technical hitch – he looked up with a shy smile, fiddled a bit and carried on. He has such grace – a beautiful, transcendent sound that grounds you and lays the foundation for the rest of the show. He doesn’t say much but has a fantastic stage presence and can hold his own as a solo performer. I noticed I had started crying. After a couple of sets, he was joined by percussionist Ayoze de Alejandro who worked his way into the sound and they played off each other. I think of flamenco as a solo performance, but it’s about teamwork and collaboration with lots of eye contact, banter and gesturing between performers. It was lovely to feel the connection between the two men.

Jesus is petite and slender with a determined chin and an intense expression – he reminded me of Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman. For the first performance, he wore a black and white suit which looked a bit Michael Jackson with a shirt that came undone as he moved. He is an excellent dancer and gave an accomplished performance, but for some reason, he didn’t dominate the room or give me tingles down my spine. I wanted him to push it to the edge. Maybe that would come later? For the second half, he wore a red and black suit which looked sharper and took it in turns to dance with La Kati – an excellent flamenco performer.

“You need to watch Israel Galvan,” my friend whispered into my ear. “I saw him in London. He’s such a force… dominates the stage. Such charisma. Chunky, not too skinny. Great ass, too.”

One of the highlights was an improv session around a wooden table featuring all performers. They started out tapping the table with their fists, building the sound, smiling and laughing and ended with a cracking tabletop performance by Jesus and La Kati. Would it collapse, or would they fall off first? Good tension and the audience got into the swing of it, clapping along in delight. I can imagine this scene being played out in bars across the country as a voice for political protest.

All in, an accomplished show, though I was left wanting more. For me, the standout performance was Sola’s solo guitar playing. Graceful and immersive, he took the audience with him on a journey – the total opposite to the flamenco but the two work well in tandem – he sets the stage for the physical movement and didn’t need any vocal accompaniment.

Looking around the Kino Teatr, St Leonards’ Russian art gallery and performance venue, I felt a bit depressed that most of the audience were over 50. £20 per ticket is a bit steep, but this is live theatre and something you don’t see every day in St Leonards. I prioritised this over other events as I wanted to feel something and thought it would help with the winter blues.

When we got home I watched Israel Galvan and Silvia Pérez Cruz on YouTube. She has a stunning, ethereal voice and he is such a force on stage – simple black outfit, hair swept back in a ponytail. He draws you in with his graceful hand movements. I can see why flamenco is Spain’s premier art form and a powerful tool for protest. Not sure I’d be any good at it with my joints, but I look forward to being energised by more of it.

Jesus Olmedo will be back at the Kino Teatr, St Leonards on May 25, 2019. Booking and info here.

Photo by Dolo Iglesias on Unsplash

Blog Culture Spain Wellness

The Art of Tickling – Cosquillearte, Madrid

“How’s the soup, little Jep?” she asks him.

“You’ve not called me that for centuries, why now?”.

“Because a friend, every now and again, needs to make their friend feel like they did as a child.”

“How can I make you feel like a little girl?”

“You don’t need to, I feel like a little girl every day,” she laughs.

To tap into that energy Jep throws lavish parties for his aristocratic friends where they do the “best Conga in Rome”. He dances and has lots of sex.

Touch is a basic need, it connects the body and mind and keeps us in the moment. Not being touched enough can make us feel withdrawn, lonely, anxious and depressed. In Western cultures, massage is an expensive ‘treat’, a luxury rather than part of our daily routine, as it is in Eastern countries. Massage shouldn’t be something we have to pay a lot for, it helps us to feel connected to ourselves, the planet, and that youthful energy Jep is craving. I’m mindful of this when I see friends and like to give them a hug and a kiss hello because I know how important touch is and what a difference it can make to someone’s sense of well-being.

CosquilleArte in Madrid is a spa doing something a bit different. It’s ‘the world’s first tickle spa’ and has built up a steady roster of clients from children and teenagers to 70-year-olds, and is looking to set up franchises around the world. Intrigued? Here’s a comment piece by Andrew Kuzyk.

Tickling Therapy: No Laughing Matter

Laughter is truly the best form of medicine, right? CosquilleArte, which recently opened in Madrid, now offers half-hour and hour tickling sessions for $35 and $45 respectively in its treatment rooms, where clients can lie down on a comfy massage table…and be tickled. The name of this particular spa, CosquilleArte can be translated to “tickle yourself” or “tickle art” stated.

“My dad used to tickle me to get me to go to sleep, so it’s always relaxed me,” says owner Isabel Aires, who helped develop the tickling treatment with two trained massage therapists. “One day I just thought, why can’t I pay someone to do this, in the same way as I pay for a relaxing massage?”.

“There is no school for tickling”, she said. “We simply had to invent it ourselves.” With an environment much like many other day spas, the treatment takes place in a darkened room, with soothing music playing and a hint of incense in the air, Time’s Lisa Abend reports.

The client lies down lightly draped with a warm, soothing towel and then the sensual tickling, first with fingertips drawn along the relaxed body, then a delicate feather and so the tickle massage begins. “We use a variety of strokes”, says therapist Lourdes Nieto. “If someone is extra ticklish, we may press firmer. The idea is to completely relax them, not to stress them out in any way.” Abend, while extremely ticklish, confirmed that the treatment was in fact very relaxing and reported that everybody seems to leave happy and hooked on tickling.

Writing this article led me to think, as I have a hundred times before, how much physical touch can give comfort: the delicate stroking a mother gives to her child, the gentle rub on the back of someone who is grieving. Touch has great value, it communicates so much; it makes us all feel good when done properly of course. Our bodies respond to it. I don’t know how widely known this is, but if your partner is experiencing physical pain, light stroking or tickling, especially along the midline of the body, can help immensely.

Tickling stimulates the hypothalamus, which is part of the human brain that controls our body temperature, hunger and sensual behaviour. Many people, therefore, find being tickled and touched a sexual turn-on. If both parties are game then tickle away. Using a sleep mask or blindfold can actually enhance the sensations of touching and double the pleasure enjoyed. The soles of the foot contain concentrated bundles of nerve endings, over 200,000, which make the feet very sensitive and receptive to foot rubs or tickle rubs.

I have personally observed this to be true for myself and others I have touched. Most people are ticklish in some way, whether all over or just in a small “tickle spot”. One doesn’t usually have to look far to find a ticklish spot. Tickling and caressing makes us laugh, smile and feel physical pleasure. Some people like tickling for the way it creates bonding and brings you together, while others enjoy it in more intimate settings. Whether you are being intimate or simply relaxing, tickling can certainly lighten your mood.

Non-consensual tickling should never be administered on an individual…

CosquilleArte Vitoria

Photo by Emilio Garcia on Unsplash