Spanish culture has been a major influence on the culture of New York City, the United States, the Americas, and the world.
Spain is famous for flamenco, but is influential in every cultural dimension. Spanish culture is a blend of Celtic, Roman, North African, Jewish, Gothic, Arab, Romani culture, and more. Spain also absorbed culture from the Americas.
Islamic Spain (711-1492) was one of the three great European civilizations. It was one of the most advanced societies of its time and developed a lot of scientific knowledge that we use today.
Hispanic culture is a legacy of the Spanish Empire (1492-1898) which brutally forced Spanish language, religion, and culture on the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and the African Diaspora. The colonial Spanish church was violent, but allowed intermarriage which created the “Latin” people.
The western two-thirds of the United States was once part of New Spain (1519-1821). Today the U.S. has the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking population after Mexico.
The first European Thanksgiving in what became the U.S. was in St Augustine, Florida in 1565.
Spanish Culture in New York City
92NY Harkness Dance Center APAP Showcase: Limón Dance Company, MeenMoves, Annie Rigney 🇮🇱 🇲🇽
Audra McDonald Broadway singer 🇺🇸
Ballet Hispánico contemporary dance 🇲🇽 🇵🇷 🇨🇺 🇻🇪
Trio Zimbalist, Roberto Díaz chamber music 🇨🇱 🇫🇷
Dancing the 92nd Street Y: Ailey II, Limón, Martha Graham 🇺🇸 🇲🇽
Cécile McLorin Salvant jazz 🇭🇹 🇫🇷
Manuel Barrueco classical guitar 🇨🇺
Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés, Joe Lovano jazz 🇺🇸 🇨🇺 🇮🇹
UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan
92ND STREET Y contemporary dance
NEW YORK CITY CENTER Spring season 🇨🇺 🇨🇴 🇪🇸
UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan 🇺🇸 🇧🇷 🇨🇴 🇨🇺 🇮🇹 🇲🇽 🇵🇷 🇸🇻 🇪🇸 🇻🇪
Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular dance 🎄
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Rey Ruíz, & Wilfrido Vargas salsa 🇵🇷 🇨🇺 🇩🇴
Juanes alternative rock 🇨🇴
Gloria Trevi pop rock 🇲🇽
Gilberto Santa Rosa Auténtico salsa 🇵🇷
Silvestre Dangond ‘Ta Malo vallenato 🇨🇴
Hombres G 40 Aniversario pop rock 🇪🇸
ROCKEFELLER CENTER, Midtown, Manhattan
METROPOLITAN OPERA, Lincoln Center 🇲🇽 🇧🇷 ~ 🇦🇷 🇨🇦 🇮🇨 🇨🇺 🇬🇹 🇮🇹 🇳🇮 🇵🇷 🇪🇸
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 🇺🇸
“Jelly’s Last Jam” jazz musical 🇺🇸
Flamenco Festival from Spain 🇪🇸
Dance Theatre of Harlem 🇺🇸 🇧🇷 🇨🇴 🇨🇺 🇭🇹 🇮🇹
Ballet Hispánico 🇨🇺 🇨🇴 🇪🇸
“Jazz at the Joyce” Dormeshia Tap Collective, Michelle N. Gibson, Josette Wiggan 🇺🇸
Soles of Duende tap dance 🇺🇸 🇮🇳 🇪🇸
Dallas Black Dance Theatre contemporary 🇺🇸
Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE African, Afro-Cuban, African American contemporary 🇺🇸 🇨🇺
Compagnie Hervé KOUBI contemporary 🇩🇿 🇫🇷
Music from the Sole tap, samba, house, carnival 🇧🇷
Spanish NYC disbursed after the Spanish-American War of 1898.
New York City’s “Little Spain” used to be on 14th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. La Nacional, the Spanish social club, is the only remnant.
The Hispanic Society Museum and Library in Washington Heights has the best collection of Colonial Spanish art outside of Madrid.
Eva Davidova is a New York Spanish multimedia artist. 🇪🇸
In the U.S., “Don Quixote” is treated as a children’s story. Actually it is the beginning of modern literature. It was the first time a character a story knew they were being written about.
The Jorge Luis Borges Library at Instituto Cervantes in Midtown East is New York City’s biggest Spanish-language library.
The King Juan Carlos Center at NYU promotes Spanish-language literature at New York University.
The Hispanic Institute at Columbia University hosts talks about Hispanic culture. Twitter @CasaHispanicaNY
The Spanish Consulate is in Midtown East, Manhattan.
They produce Spain Culture New York, a website and newsletter about Spanish events in New York City. spainculture.us
The Flamenco Festival New York at New York City Center, and other venues, brings the best flamenco artists from Spain to New York.
Bárbara Martínez is a New York flamenco singer and dancer. 🇻🇪🇦🇷
Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada is a Spanish fashion designer who regularly presents her New York Fashion Week shows at Fashion Designers of Latin America.
Chus Burés is a Spanish jewelry designer who got famous for jewelry used in Pedro Almódovar movies.
Custo Barcelona presents his fashion shows at Fashion Designers of Latin America.
Desigual is a Spanish fashion house with stores in New York City.
Manolo Blahnik is a legendary Spanish shoe designer.
Zara is a fast fashion leader.
Columbus Day is controversial because the man was evil and unleashed great evil on the world.
Hispanic Heritage Month is more about the Spanish-speaking peoples of the Americas.
Three Kings Day is the traditional Spanish Christmas gift-giving day.
Film at Lincoln Center presents Spanish film. Pedro Almodóvar often participates.
Mercado Little Spain by Chef Andrés and the Adría Brothers is a collection of Spanish restaurants, kiosks and bars in Hudson Yards.
Spanish Language School
Instituto Cervantes is a language school and cultural center sponsored by the government of Spain.
Carnegie Hall in Midtown and the New York Philharmonic in Lincoln Center both produce concerts of Spanish artists and composers.
Atlético Madrid NYC is New York’s Atlético Madrid soccer supporters club.
FC Barcelona NYC is New York’s Barcelona soccer supporters club.
Peña Madridista is New York’s Real Madrid soccer supporters club.
Most of New York City’s Spanish-language theatre is Hispanic, but the director of the Thalia is a Spaniard.
Repertorio Español is a Cuban Off-Broadway theatre company that produces Spanish and Hispanic theatre, often from literature.
Thalia Spanish Theatre produces Spanish and Hispanic theatre in Sunnyside, Queens. 🇪🇸
Spain is Multicultural
Spain is so multicultural that it is one of the proofs that there is no “pure” nationality. We are genetic and cultural mixes of each other. It’s human to think the world has always been the way it is in our lifetimes, but many modern nations are less that 200 years, five or ten generations old.
The Mediterranean Was a Lake to the Ancients
Ancient peoples, notably the Phoenicians from what is now Lebanon, traveled the Mediterranean Sea like a lake. They established colonies around the Sea including in in Western North Africa in Southern Spain.
Jewish communities built colonies too. So Spain has this diverse ancient heritage.
The End of the World was a Violent Place
Europe is not physically a continent. It is a peninsula on the western side of Eurasia and Spain is the tip of the peninsula.
Eurasian migration is generally east to west, so migrating peoples eventually ended up in Spain, the “end of the world” in old European thinking. As people neared the tip of Spain, the land acted like a funnel forcing them into an ever smaller space, so there was a lot of fighting. Violence was part of the ancient Spanish character. It manifested in the so-called Reconquista (722-1492), colonial violence against Indigenous Peoples and the African Diaspora (1492-1899), and the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834).
People also came the other way from North Africa across the Straight of Gibraltar, which is only nine miles wide. There were two major invasions. The first was North African. The second was Arab.
Amongst all this fighting, there was also cooperation among peoples. When humans work together, we do amazing things. Sephardic Jewish poets who wrote in Arabic and worked for both Moorish and Spanish kings, recovered classical Greco-Roman ideals from the great libraries of Islam. So-called “western culture” was resurrected by those Jewish poets.
Flamenco is a Spanish song and dance form of the Romani people, originally from Rajasthan in Northern India. They traveled northern and southern routes around the Mediterranean to Spain, absorbing many cultures along the road.
So when you say something is “Spanish,” that can mean many different things. In spite of the horrors of our past, Spain’s diversity is probably why Spanish culture is so rich and beautiful. ¡Olé!