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Madrid’s Bar Candela, legendary venue for flamenco, closes after 40 years | Culture

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There are only a few places that manage to dwell in the minds and hearts of those who took refuge within their walls. Bar Candela, a venue in the Lavapiés neighborhood of Madrid that closed last week, was such a place; an iconic flamenco hangout whose unique atmosphere was nurtured by its founder, Miguel Aguilera Fernández – aka Miguel Candela – who was loved by all who knew him. The magical nights in la cueva (the cave), the basement of the bar, became legendary and their protagonists share a vivid collective memory of anecdotes worth treasuring.

Open for almost 40 years, the Candela went through many different stages but, for a time, it became the go-to haunt or, in other words, “the common casita for flamenco artists from all over Spain, who had been coming to Madrid to look for a future since the 1980s,” as the guitarist, writer and producer José Manuel Gamboa explains, adding that he himself spent more time there than in his own home during that period.

The guitarist Gerardo Núñez was another of those who decided to carve a niche for themselves in the capital’s flamenco scene, and he found the Candela an ideal stomping ground in which to grow artistically. “All the guitarists and flamenco artists in Madrid went to the Candela, as well as those who were just passing through,” he says. “It became a place of homage and the temple of flamenco guitar. In the cave, amid a sepulchral silence and extreme respect, authentic concerts went on until 6am or 7am.”

Nothing is eternal, gentlemen, so get used to the idea

Miguel Aguilera Fernández, owner of Bar Candela

Besides being a place to hang out, the bar was also a rehearsal room. “Miguel [the owner] was a good aficionado and totally understood the idiosyncrasies of the flamenco artists,” adds Nuñez. “He allowed us to use the space to rehearse and to give dance and guitar lessons without charging us.” Flamenco dancer Joaquín Grilo had a similar experience and was even given a key to the premises so he could let himself in to rehearse in the mornings. “Miguel was like a brother to me,” he says. “I learned a lot there, both artistically and personally.”

The Candela basement was essentially a space where the artists shared their music. Núñez describes how they would meet there to show each other their new compositions. “There was a lot of rivalry,” he adds. “It was a jungle: we were going at it to the death, because we had to stand out to make a place for ourselves, but we always did so respectfully and politely. We nurtured each other, and the older ones came to learn something new from the young ones.”

The Candela became the stage for much of the flamenco guitar revolution. With the coming together of today’s maestros, such as Rafael Riqueni, Juan Manuel Cañizares and the aforementioned Núñez, the seeds of the generation that would succeed that of Manolo Sanlúcar, Víctor Monge Serranito and Paco de Lucía were sown. For this and other reasons, Gamboa states categorically that “the Candela was the place that turned everything upside down: the flamenco we have today is, to a great extent, thanks to the Candela.”

Bar Candela, located in the Lavapiés neighborhood of Madrid, on its last open day on January 11, 2022.
Bar Candela, located in the Lavapiés neighborhood of Madrid, on its last open day on January 11, 2022. Eduardo Parra (Europa Press)

All the witnesses of those days agree that the singer Enrique Morente played a central role in creating the Candela’s mystique. “It was hugely lucky that he was there almost every day and night, even if it was a sign that he was not working much at that time,” says Gamboa, who adds that despite not having much work, Morente plowed his earnings into helping young artists. “He was the only one of the renowned artists who truly supported the young,” he adds. This is corroborated by Núñez, who describes how Morente hired him for a performance at the Teatro Real opera house.

Another key figure during that era was the Granada-born guitarist Pepe Habichuela, who brought along the photographer and record producer Mario Pacheco to meet his son Juanmi and his nephews Antonio and Juan Carmona. These three would go on to join the band Ketama, considered a leading exponent of new flamenco.

Another regular visitor who would drop by when he was in Madrid was the guitar virtuoso Paco de Lucía, who chose the bar to celebrate his birthdays. The story that best illustrates his relationship with the place was the one that marked his return to the guitar after a diving accident in Mexico, which threatened to retire him from playing for life. Gamboa explains that while Paco still had his arm in a cast, the pair were in the Candela’s kitchen when Paco suddenly asked Gamboa if the house guitar had strings and if he would tune it up while he went to get his cast off. When he returned, he picked up the guitar and, without thinking twice, astonished the staff with one of his incredible picados.

The small hours of the morning

The Candela was depicted in a unique way in the show De noche (como quien espera el alba) by the Jerez-born dancer Joaquín Grilo. The show premiered in 2001 as part of the Jerez Festival and later came to Madrid for a season. De noche paid explicit tribute to the Candela’s all-night sessions, recreating its atmosphere and depicting the bewitching encounter between art and recognizable nocturnal characters who would immerse themselves in it. Grilo explains that he focused on the venue’s unique character, with its parties and “many chats.”

Aside from the inevitable flamenco – with compositions by Paco de Lucía and Bolita – the dancer adds that he also tried to convey Candela’s affinities with the jazz scene to be found at the nearby venues Café Central and Café Berlín. The show is remembered as a symbol of the eclectic vibe that prevailed in Candela’s cave, where representatives from all artistic disciplines met, including the jazz composer and pianist Chick Corea, the maestro guitarist Sabicas on his return from New York, the movie director Pedro Almodóvar and the German choreographer Pina Bausch.

In 1991, when the first Gulf War broke out, Bausch spent some time in Madrid preparing a new choreography and she went to the Candela every night. Miguel, the owner, had the TV on so that everyone could watch the news, and the dancer often cried at the images. Gamboa says they would spend the nights singing and talking to cheer her up. When the choreographer later presented her show at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, she dedicated it to the Candela tribe: Miguel, Morente, Gamboa and Juan Verdú, one of the most important figures behind the post-Franco regeneration of flamenco.

In March 2008, Miguel Candela died “accidentally by the force of fate,” as his great friend, the singer Enrique Morente, put it when he dedicated his recording to him that year: Pablo de Málaga. Perhaps, in closing, it is necessary to resort to the words of Miguel himself, who would bid farewell to his friends every dawn with the familiar phrase: “Nothing is eternal, gentlemen, so get used to the idea.”

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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