What I Love (and What I Don’t Love) About the Feria de Abril

7

April 20, 2013 by ebostick1212

It seems to me that the world famous Feria de Abril in Sevilla is a bit like Marmite; some people love it, and others hate it. In the past few weeks, I have experienced a full spectrum of people, all ready to give me, the guiri, their opinions about the fair.

You HAVE to see it. The week of Feria is the most important week of the year here in Sevilla.’

‘Feria is so classist. Everyone wants to prove how important they are with private casetas and horses, and on top of that, it is really boring.’

These are probably the most polarized comments I heard, and I have to say, I fall somewhere in the middle. I am no feriante, but I do appreciate the culture and history behind it.

What I love:

1. The Feria is gorgeous. Make no mistake. I love the vibrancy and life that the fair brings along with it. Flamenco dresses in every color and pattern known to man, lovely striped tents, and an awe inspiring portada. The Feria is an absolute treat for the eyes.

The Portada this year

The Portada this year

2. I get to play dress up. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved putting on anything fluffy and/or frilly. So of course I was eager to buy a traje de gitana, especially as a reward for losing two sizes here in Spain. Maybe I couldn’t sit down in it, and maybe it was 1000 degrees this week, but I felt AWESOME wearing my first traje.

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3. Also, I get to witness Spanish tradition at its finest. As with Semana Santa, Feria is a slice of true Spanish culture. Whether it be women dancing Sevillanas passionately, or the never ending procession of horses and carriages trotting through the streets, I feel lucky to have caught a glimpse into Spanish history.

What I Don’t Love

1. I agree with my friend. The Feria is really classist. Other than rides for kids, the fair consists of casetas. These are tents, decked out with tables and chairs, dance floors, and areas to prepare food. They range from holes in the walls, to the size of large restaurants. How is this classist? Well most of these casetas are private. You have to ‘know someone’ to get in. It is the ultimate power play for a person. A sentiment that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. It is the Sevilla fair, so shouldn’t things be available for all ?

Yep, these tents are all private.

Yep, these tents are all private.

2. On that note, there is a huge lack of public facilities. Apart from a few public casetas filled to the brim with people boozing it up, there is nary a place to sit. ( not like I was planning on sitting in my dress…) It is even hard to find a place to buy a bottle of water, or actual food. I won’t even get started on the bathrooms. Let’s just say public drinking and public bathrooms don’t mix.

Nope, not allowed in here either. Should have done some extra schmoozing before Feria.

Nope, not allowed in here either. Should have done some extra schmoozing before Feria.

3. The Feria stops everything for a week…even if you aren’t participating. Kids don’t show up for school, shops close, and you end up having run out of work during recess because the bank won’t stay open after noon, and you need cash. Also, public transport succcccks this week. The metro is packed like sardines and there is a 96% chance a grandma in a flamenco dress will inadvertently jab you in the eye with the fan she is holding.

So, I guess I’m in the middle of the spectrum. I think the Feria is a beautiful tradition, and I am lucky enough to have experienced it. Yet, I find it was a bittersweet experience overall. I am sure I could have seen so many other parts of the Feria, but as an outsider without much enchufe, or networking, I was definitely at a loss.

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7 thoughts on “What I Love (and What I Don’t Love) About the Feria de Abril

  1. Agreed! Your flamenco dress is beautiful– don’t you just feel great wearing it?

  2. I had an ‘enchufe’ and I still hated the Feria. I did like seeing all the old traditions mix with the new fair and it was fun to see all the colorful outfits, but the exclusivity and classist attitude left a really sour taste in my mouth.

    Plus, the combination of looking obviously foreign and not wearing a traje de gitana meant I got quite a lot of nasty comments for being the foreigner intruding on ‘their’ party – even though I was invited by a local.

    • ebostick1212 says:

      I wasn’t aware that if you don’t wear a traje you get looks. I know they are popular, but it isn’t a uniform! Sounds like you had an awkward time :S

      • Mmm it wasn’t looks – it was comments and rude behavior inside the caseta. Some people weren’t happy about an obvious foreigner being at their party and they made sure I knew it.

        The traje wasn’t really the problem (lots of people don’t wear trajes, of course); it was the attitude towards outsiders. Not wearing a traje PLUS having foreign looks is an easy way to stick out at some of the exclusive casetas.

      • ebostick1212 says:

        Yeah, I can see that attitude at the Feria. Well, I didn’t even have enough enchufe (in spite of co-workers telling me all about their casetas and blah blah blah) to get into one to feel foreign haha. I just wandered around and attempted to go on rides in a ridiculously tight traje.

  3. […] Have you ever seen anything that was completely and utterly over-the-top, and you still step back and think “whoa, that is gorgeous” ?  I have had a few of those moments.  The massive James Rosenquist painting hanging in the Guggenheim.  The absurdly priced, waaaaay too high, stilettos.  Of course most recently, the blur of colorful flamenco dresses at the Feria de Abril. […]

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