One of the things I love best about my job is that, years and years into covering the arts beat around here, I still regularly get the delightful surprise of stumbling onto new-to-me cultural enclaves.
For example, I’ve long favored the arts-friendly Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar for lunch dates and live music — anyone who loves jazz in the Twin Cities knows its one of the few remaining hotspots for live performance of the form left in these parts.
And the visual art is consistently good, too. Avant garde printmakers, successful mid-career painters, hot new photographers — considering the usual coffee shop gallery fare, artists on exhibit on the Black Dog’s café walls are usually head-and-shoulders more interesting than they’ve any right to be.
I knew the venue hosted a variety of other such events, from spoken word to a monthly artists’ happy hour. However, after all this time, I had no idea it was home to a semi-regular “Gathering of the Gypsies.” Hosted by Sendero Flamenco, it’s billed as an “open stage” night for flamenco and “other Gypsy-inspired music and dance.”
Anyone’s invited to take the stage, and dancers have five minutes of stage time, in costume or not, to perform. Artists are encouraged to take advantage of the availability of live musical accompaniment, but they’re also welcome to provide their own tunes, canned or live, as they wish.
Before the “open stage” portion of the evening, the artists of Sendero Flamenco perform; the café offers specials on flights of Spanish wine for $10 all night, and the cover is a very reasonable $5.
And after bit of poking around, I suspect “Gypsy-inspired” might be code for belly dancing.
Sendero Flamenco’s next “Gathering of the Gypsies” (aka “Flamenco Fiesta”) will be Saturday, Aug. 20 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, at the corner of Fourth and Broadway, Lowertown, St. Paul; 651-228-9274. Suggested cover is $5.