If you’ve only been living in your La Manga Club apartment for a short time, perhaps you don’t know that in addition to enjoying the unparalleled sport, gastronomic, and leisure offer at our golf resort, you also have the opportunity to explore your privileged surroundings and learn about the great cultural and geographic richness of the Region of Murcia. If you want to enjoy all the home-grown traditions to the fullest through the most popular songs and dances, you should attend some of the local festivals. Today we focus on bolero, considered the master of all folk dances in Murcia. You can get your first introduction at Fuente Álamo, just 40 minutes by car from your La Manga Club property.
The bolero developed in Spain in the second half of the XVIII century, when it was taught by maestros and teachers known as dance masters or bolero masters. The steps of the bolero were inspired by popular dances that the masters reinvented, creating, over the base of traditional musical numbers, a series of more complex steps that required a certain amount of artistic capacity and agility to perform. Observing others dancing from a young age and practicing was sufficient to learn the simple steps of the traditional dances, but that wasn’t the case for the bolero. And it was precisely because of this difficult execution that the collaboration of masters specialized in boleros became a requirement, thus increasing the demand for and social prestige of these teachers as the dances became more and more popular not only during romerías and festivals but also in theater performances.
Such was the love of bolero that numerous literary authors of the period mentioned the dance in their work as an essential element of entertainment of all the social classes. Nonetheless, customs change, and when new dances arrived on the peninsula, the bolero began to fade into the background. By the second half of the XIX century, it was only practiced in certain rural areas, and at the beginning of the XX century it saw its maximum decline during the Spanish Civil War.
Today, in the Region of Murcia, the only place that you can continue to see these dances performed is Fuente Álamo, a history-filled town very close to your apartment at La Manga Club. This is the place where the first masters were trained in the second half of the XIX century and where you can find the first bolero school, founded by Pedro Leandro Baños in 1980. Today it is directed by Pedro José Leandro Navarro, the only bolero master active in Spain. Thanks to his passion for keeping this tradition alive, the Fuente Álamo school has been declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage asset by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Environment of Murcia.
The Fuente Álamo bolero is a fusion of fandangos, jotas, and seguidillas and the dance forged in the bolero school of the Madrid courts. Its evolution has resulted in a dance in which the jumps are slower and more gentle, the steps are more marked and the movements more elegant. Accompanying instruments include strings like the bandurria, the lute, the guitar, the violin, and on some occasions, percussion instruments like the tambourine, the cymbals, the castanets, and the postizas.
Big festivals, fairs, neighborhood celebrations, and folk events are all perfect opportunities to enjoy a good bolero live. So don’t fail to consult the agenda of events and activities close to your La Manga Club apartment if you want to immerse yourself in the passionate history of this dance.