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Kevin EG Perry took his two left feet to Madrid’s Teatro Flamenco, where he attempted to master the basics of this sultry Spanish dance

IN HIS 1933 LECTURE ‘The Theory and Function of Duende’, the great Spanish poet Federico García Lorca attempts to explain the ineffable sadness that exists in certain forms of artistic expression. ‘Flamenco dancers,’ he wrote, ‘know that emotion is impossible without the arrival of the duende… that mysterious power that everyone feels, but no philosopher has explained.’

If any philosophers had stumbled through the doors of Madrid’s Teatro Flamenco during the first 20 minutes of my debut lesson, they’d have had a pretty hard time explaining what was going on there too. More accustomed to the sort of spontaneous, arms-aloft raving that you see in the dark corners of Glastonbury at 4am, I was ill-prepared for the discipline of learning a dance routine, keeping time, and moving my hips all at once, I shuffled about hopelessly. And what was I was supposed to be doing with my hands?

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