Makes a change from sloping around the shopping centre. These young people have arranged a rendez-vous at the Feria entrance gate, the portada, a popular meeting point. They say that many people meet their media naranja – other half – at the Feria de Sevilla (I know a few who did) – so who knows if some of these chavales and chavallas will end up together? The girls all look stunning, while the boys are less impressive. Overawed by the bright beauties; hovering like moths around a flame.
Women in frilly dresses riding side-saddle behind men in their traje cortos (short jacket, high-waisted trousers and Cordobes hat) are one of my favourite Feria sights. This lady was beaming and delighted to have her photo taken – complete with admirer gazing up at her adoringly from down below. Who knows what the story with these three was.
Riding around the Feria with your media naranja, and perhaps another couple, stopping off at your friends’ casetas for a glass of fino, is a key part of the experience for jinetes and their gitanas. If you don’t have your own horse, you can hire one for the day. Horses must, naturally, look their best too – groomed to within an inch of their lives, with gleaming coats, and exquisitely-coiffured, with expertly plaited mane and tail.
Most little girls are obsessed with princesses, palaces and castles, so wearing a frilly dress and sitting in a magnificent carriage being pulled by a horse has to be high up there on most niñas’ wishlists. Cinderella, anyone? (My four-year-old daughter would combust with delight at the chance to do this.)
But riding in a carriage around the Feria, where such transports are allowed until 8pm, is also a good chance for a family get-together, accompanied by some classic Sevillano tall-story telling. Everything is exaggerated when someone here recounts an incident – details will be overblown for dramatic or comic effect. Add some sunshine and sherry, and you’ve got the makings of a very entertaining afternoon.
This caseta is always full of good cheer – like most casetas it is private, but when I stop here to take photos, they never fail to invite me in, offer me a glass of sherry and treat me like a friend. Warm, delightful women who aren’t here to posture and show off how rich they are and how many friends they have. They just want to dance, sing and celebrate life. Salt of the earth.
Dancing in the street – most Sevillanas are danced inside casetas, the small, striped tents, but this year temperatures were so high that the tents were steamingly hot and stuffy; many people took their baile outside where the air was less stifling.
Young girls get dressed up in their flamenca dresses from an early age, going to friends’ and family’s casetas in groups. Friendships are cemented over Feria experiences – first kisses, first boyfriends – it’s all part of growing up in Seville.
This year’s Feria finished last Sunday; next year’s is on 29 April – 4 May 2014. Horse and/or carriage optional; frilly dress strongly advised.