La Feria en Crisis

I recently took one of those Facebook quizzes because it honestly called my attention (there goes my English getting more Spanish!) The result was feriante – someone who loves the April Fair, six straight days of dancing and drinking. I like drinking and dancing is something that happens when I drink too much, so this holiday was clearly invented for my own enjoyment.

The fair origins go back centuries, but in Andalucía the first was in a town just east of Sevilla called Mairena del Alcor. La de Sevilla started in a park with a few marquees, known as casetas, and has since grown to include over 1000 of them in a new location south of my neighborhood. The casetas are owned by businesses or families, whom are known as socios, and every year they must pay hundreds, if not thousands, to maintain their caseta.
Feria begins every year with a pecaito frito, a dinner for the socios. At midnight, the main gate to the fairgrounds is lit up in a ceremony called the alumbrado. It’s wonderful to watch the different parts of the fairgrounds light up, with people botelloning underneath. Then the party starts – flamenco music begins to drift out from the casetas and people begin to dance in the street. Most of the casetas are private, but there are about 50 public ones for political parties, neighborhoods, etc. We spent most of the time in public casetas that night, drinking rebujito (a half liter of sherry mixed with 7up) and dancing sevillanas, a four part dance.

The following day was the celebration of Sevilla’s patron saint, San Fernando. The Real de la Feria was hasta las trancas with people, many of them dressed in typical flamenco gowns or riding suits. Horse carriages and horses march in and out of the portada and to the bull ring, where there’s a corrida daily. I went with Kelly to a friend of Kike’s from his village, where we danced Sevillanas and drank rebujito. I right away felt welcome by Fabian, Carlos and Julian. We did our normal caseta-hopping, going to see Melissa’s friend, Carlos, Susana and Alfonso, Jessica’s boyfriend. Dressed up and dripping Spanish from my tongue, I danced and drank and had a great time.

And it showed the next day in my face. Vaya cara de sueno! I spent the whole day craving a nap, but decided instead to follow some of my coworkers to the fairgrounds. After a quick beer at Serafin’s, we went to the portada by day – white with yellow accents and looking like the front of a Feria tent. Against the blue sky, it was beautiful, and it was fun going to the fair with first-timers like Raul and Lourdes. After a quick walk around, we went to one of the nicest casetas I’ve ever been in – it looked like a home with its mirrors and fancy dining room flanked with bull heads. We ate croquetas, tortillas, puntas de solomillo and other Andalusian foods for less than six euros a head. In this caseta, there was a raised dancefloor and there was a little girl not older than seven in a short pink traje who danced better than all of the women aorund her.

We went to Calle del Infierno, a huge amusement park where gypsies sell carnations and toys, kids play drop the crane for prizes and two gigantic ferris wheels spin on either end. We walked through the stalls and hamburger stands, marveling at girls in trajes riding on the rollercoasters without managing to mess up their hair (LACA’d up!).

Although I didn’t notice it so much until the weekend, it was clear that the financial meltdown affected the fair – there was a sign in most casetas called “A Feria Goer’s Manual Against the Crisis” with a guide to saving money (I didn’t bring my horse this year because they wouldn’t allow it on the metro, etc.) On Saturday especially, the fairgrounds were empty and the casetas half full. It’s odd to think about how the crisis has affected everything here, and I experience it every single day. I’m really happy to have a job because of it!

My companeros de trabajo – Serafin, Manuel, Lourdes, Raul and I at C/ del Infierno

I am sick of writing about this because I’m still so tired from Feria and this weekend, so I will just include some more pictures. I pretty much spent the week running in and out of casetas, drinking rebujito but being more careful this year to stay sober and alternate with beer or pop, dancing sevillanas (I even succeeded in getting Kike to dance, though I’m sure he did only because he was drunk) and hosting Jeremy and Isabel, two friends who teach in Madrid, for the weekend. I really enjoyed myself, and I think now I’m able to stand on my own two feet here. I impressed people with my musing of saying I was from Chicago de la Frontera (a take on a town called Chiclana de la Frontera), firing off Spanish puns and dancing with mucho arte. Even though Kike was only down for a few days,I had no problems entertaining my roommates and coworkers and friends.

Que viva la Feria!! I’m already thinking of the color complementos I want for next year!

Tocando el cajon y cantando sevillanas en la caseta de Alfonso
Kike’s brother, Alvaro, and I, along with Victor’s head. I love Victor. He’s from Vdoid.
Twilight (crepusculo, thanks to the book) on C/ Pasqual Marquez
My roommate, Melissa, and I como gitanas
In one of the more memorable episodes of Feria, I stepped on a toothpick and it started bleeding, so a nice waiter patched me up with a bandaid and some food. Buena gente.
Me, Kelly and Sara at Sara’s boyfriend’s work’s caseta (and this is an easy relation!)
HORSIES all over the place (followed by a street sweeper)
Kelly and me
vaya pareja mas guapa!
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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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