I bought myself a Feria outfit today – a white skirt with pink spots and a white shirt. Plus the requisite accessories – fringed shawl, dirt cheap ‘pasmina’ (of the viscose variety, four euro in the market) and, of course, a couple of pink flowers to wear tucked behind my ear. The best thing about wearing the full-length flamenco skirt is that you can wear trainers under it, so that tramping up and down the dusty, sandy streets, through puddles and horse-shit, standing around chatting and dancing sevillanas in casetas, should the mood take you, can be done in total comfort, if not high style!!
The Feria has all the elements you see in stereotypical images of Spain, because Seville is the quintessentially Spanish city. Prancing horses ridden by men wearing flat-topped, wide-brimmed hats, tight trousers and bolero jackets; dark-haired women wearing flouncy dresses with big dangly earrings and flowers in their hairs, hands aloft as they dance with their heels clicking. Men playing guitars and singing sad laments, or cheery songs. Jugs of ‘rebujito’ – mix of lemonade and sherry, better than it sounds, bought by the jug and drunk out of tiny plastic cups.
The Feria is held in a huge, open area (called the ‘recinto’) which is filled with around 1,000 small tents called casetas, which you can only go into if you have a much sought-after invitation from one of the owners – most are owned by families or groups of friends. Once inside, sometimes your host has to order food and drink for you, although usually these days you can order your own. It’s custom for him or her to treat you first time round in any case.
Then you can chat, dance and check out everyone else’s outfits – hemlines, cuts, colours, spot size (dress fabric, not complexion). It’s a fashionista’s feast.
Musts for feria: speak Spanish; be up for enjoying yourself; try to dance, even if you’re crap; wear shoes that won’t kill your feet; have patience when queuing for the bus home afterwards!
So much for Spring – right now it’s hailing the biggest hailstones I’ve ever seen – the size of large cherries. Enough to fill a cocktail mixer several times over! That, wind, thunder, lightning and torrential rain. Won’t be much fun at the Feria tonight!