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Chilean Adventures in the Spirit of Neruda and Mistral

3 Sep

HispanicLondon is about to undertake a voyage… to Chile!

It’s the wrong time of year for it- Santiago’s cold winter is turning into spring and a snowy view of the Andes is on the cards. But what better way to spend two weeks than backpacking around Chile, from Santiago to the Atacama desert in the north.

Santiago en invierno

The trip starts in Santiago where the schedule is packed and adventurous. There’ll be horse riding in the Cascada de las Animas and mountain walking in the Cajon de Maipo– hopefully with a visit to the hot springs! Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet, had a summer house at Isla Negra outside Santiago, which should be well worth a visit for its “spectacular setting on a windswept ocean headland”, according to the trusty Lonely Planet. It was in this house where Neruda died of cancer after it was ransacked by soldiers loyal to Pinochet after his coup in 1973. Continue reading

A Taste of Spain on London’s Regent Street

7 Jun

Central London shoppers were in for a special treat on Sunday, when A Taste of Spain converted Regent Street into a festival of Spanish culture, just for one day. Some 500,000 visitors checked out the food stalls, music stage and other displays that stretched the length of Regent Street from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus, closed off to traffic.

Jump right in! Paella Valenciana- yum!

The colourful fiesta included giant paellas from Valencia, dancing horses from Menorca and drummers from the Tamborrada de San Sebastián, who performed for the first time away from their basque home town. A foody’s delight, the festival also featured numerous stalls with culinary delights from Andalucia and Navarra.

Dancing horses from Menorca

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Good Morning Freedom! Spanish cinema after Franco at BFI Southbank

28 May

Almodovar at his best

The death of Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 gave rise to an alternative, adventurous and eclectic movement within Spanish culture, the movida. Next month BFI Southbank will host a season celebrating this brand of cinema with showings of Cria Cuervos (Raise Ravens, 1975) as well as Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, 1998),and the lesser known titles The Anchorite (El anacoreta, 1977) and Opera Prima (1980).

Franco’s death signalled the end of censorship, and the birth of a filmmaking generation unleashed from a climate of repression. Famous Spanish directors like Pedro Almodóvar and Iván Zululeta approached subjects that were previously beyond taboo: sex, drugs, homosexuality, politics and all with an innovative, free spirit that brought together filmmakers, professional and amateur actors, designers and musicians.

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Loewe comes to London

17 Apr

Last month Spanish luxury leather brand Loewe opened a new boutique on Mount Street, Mayfair, its first independent shop in London. Previously only available to London shoppers at Selfridges and Harrods, Loewe has found its new home in a gorgeous nineteenth century building complete with cornicing  and pillared entrance; it is almost as attractive as the colourful treats inside.

As pretty outside as it is within: Loewes new Mount Street shop

Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof at the launch

The launch party attracted some big fashion names as well as mainstream celebs; Bianca Jagger, Marie Helvin, Jade Parfitt, Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof were all in attendance. Guests nibbled classic Spanish tapas including chorizo and manchego, washed down by Moet & Chandon champagne and elderflower presses. Sadly, HispanicLondon was not invited, but this doesn’t stop us from lauding this iconic Spanish brand and celebrating its bold arrival in the capital… Continue reading

Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape at the Tate Modern

26 Mar

The famous Catalan Surrealist artist, Joan Miró i Ferrà, 1893-1983, lived through and documented some of the most significant events of the twentieth century.

Aidez l'Espagne, 1937

He was born in Barcelona and, after training as an artist there, he frequently travelled to Paris and became a key figure in the Surrealist movement. Miró remained in France with his young family during the Spanish Civil War and expressed his protests explicitly in the aptly named Aidez l’Espagne and Le Faucheur, 1937. He returned to Spain in 1940 after the Nazi invasion, and experienced a kind of internal exile under Franco, working in secret at home but gaining fame abroad for his post-war artistry. His response to the Second World War is more disguised in the Constellation paintings of 1940-1941, criticising fascist aggression while living under the dictatorship of Hitler and Mussolini’s ally.

Constellation: The Morning Star, 1940

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London’s burning: Flames of Desire from Tango Fire

19 Mar

For those who haven’t visited Buenos Aires’ famous dance halls nor seen the likes of Vincent Simone or Flavia Cacace strut their staff on the dance floor in Strictly Come Dancing, tango might seem a stompy, stroppy dance characteristic of a military march.

But when Tango Fire, hailed as Argentina’s hottest dance company, brings their new show Flames of Desire to London in April, you’re promised a taste of the energy and passion for which the Argentine tango is famous.

Described by the Evening Standard as “each duet a mini drama, sexual electricity at the twitch of a hip”, Flames of Desire will showcase the speediest kicks, hooks (known as ganchos) and flicks in the business. As implied by its name, Flames of Desire will show how far removed the twirling moves of the Argentine tango are from the rigidity of its predecessor. Continue reading

Back to their roots: The Creole Choir of Cuba

31 Jan

After making a great impact at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009 and more recently at the London Jazz Festival, the Creole Choir of Cuba will be performing at the Barbican Centre as part of their first national tour. The group, who perform under the name Desandann in Cuba, the Creole word for ‘descendents’, came together to celebrate their Haitian heritage in song and dance. They sing in Creole, the language spoken by Haitian immigrants to Cuba, a mix of French and African languages. Almost a million people still speak Creole in Cuba. Continue reading