Saturday, May 1, 2010

Spanish Prom?

What? Another blog, and so soon? Yes, I know you had all thought that I had finished blogging about my spring break vacation, but surprise! I've got one more to close out the week, and it involves 25 bobby pins, a bright yellow dress, and a roller-coaster. Sound interesting?

Welcome to Feria, Sevilla's other huge festival besides Semana Santa. If you ask a Sevillano which one they like better, Feria or Semana Santa, they will shake their head and reply, "They are too different, basically opposites. You can't compare them."

Semana Santa is a religious, sacred, and serious week (see previous blog post: "The trip from hell"). Following the Sevillana logic, this could only mean one thing about feria...


And party is right. To put it in US pop-culture terms, Feria could be considered Sevilla's prom. Except that instead of one night, it's a whole week. And instead of just high-schoolers, everyone's invited. And there's also an amusement park. Alright, so it's not really that similar at all.

Basically, Feria consists of a bunch of casetas, or tents. Most of the casetas in Sevilla are private, meaning that you have to be on The List to be able to enter. (Casetas in other towns are different. In Jerez, for example, they are all open to the public.) Inside the caseta, you will find music, dancing, drinking, a catering service, and fun fun fun! Public casetas are also enjoyable, but they're much more crowded and you have to pay for your food and drink. To get the authentic experience, it's better if you know someone on the inside, someone who can get you on The List. For me, that was one of my speaking partners, Antonio.

[I realize I haven't talked about either of my intercambio partners, so I'll describe Antonio a bit here: I know Antonio through my gym. He's 16, rides a horse, likes to do chin-ups, and is from a rich family. I know this because during our first intercambio experience, I really had to go to the bathroom and he offered his apartment. (Not sketch, his Mom, Loli, was home.) He lives on the 9th floor in what is basically a penthouse, with an incredible view of the river and opulent pictures of Jesus throughout. Accordingly, his family has a caseta, and Chantel and I were invited!]

Another thing about Feria: all the girls wear flamenco dresses. Blue, red, yellow, polka-dotted, flowers, any kind of color or pattern, you can pretty much find in flamenco dress form during Feria. They are tight from the shoulders to the bottom of the culo (what your mama gave ya), with lots of volantes, big and wavy folds of fabric at the bottom and on the sleeves. As our guy friends put it, "they are very unforgiving" dresses.

Thankfully, Chencha let Chantel and I borrow two that she had lying around. The woman is such a Feria pro that she was able to re-sew the top of mine, taking it in so it fit me perfectly, in less than an hour. Daaaang Chencha! She also did both of our hair, complete with the traditional flower and peineta, ornamental comb. Honestly, it felt a little bit like getting ready for prom. (Similarity!) Her finished products:

[On our patio.]

So, with our new get-ups, Chantel and I took to the streets, feeling very giddy and very authentic. Feria is located in our neighborhood, Los Remedios, and so it only took us 2 minutes to get there. Enough time for me to turn to Chantel and say, "I feel so Spanish!"

We first spent Feria with Matt and Bryan, two boys from our program, hitting up the public casetas and one of the roller-coaster rides. Bryan and I tried dancing Sevillanas, the traditional dance of Feria, but it was pretty much a fracaso, failure. (We had had 5 dance classes given by our program during the weeks leading up to Feria.) It was great, but after a couple of hot hours, Chantel and I were getting blisters from our heels and needed a break.

[Bryan seems distracted.]

After a quick rest, we changed into flats and hit Feria once again, this time meeting up with Antonio and his friends. We visited our first private caseta, owned by one of Antonio's friends, and then went to another amusement ride called Super Canguro (Super Kangaroo). After an extremely bouncy experience, we went to his family's personal caseta, where I met the rest of his family. His mom was so nice to me, saying that she had missed me since we first met, and then asked me if I wanted to dance. Those of you who know me well know that I never turn down an opportunity to get my groove on, and this was no exception. I was a little nervous however, considering my dancing with Bryan earlier that day, and I asked her to have some patience. She smiled and replied, "Just follow me."

[From left to right: Miguel (another gym member], me, Antonio's Dad, Chantel, Ángela (sister), Antonio, and Antonio's Mom Loli.]

And I did. And it was so fun! I also danced the rumba with Antonio's dad, which is a MUCH easier dance that you can pretty much make up on the spot. After spending an hour or two in Antonio's caseta, we said adios to him and his family, and bopped over to our friends Gayle and Melissa, whose Señora has her own caseta. More talking, more rebujito, and more Sevillana dancing with Bryan ensued, without much improvement. (Actually, it might have been even worse.) At around 4 am, we decided to hit the road, and sashayed our way back to our house and went to sleep.

[Me and a bañuelo. Sorry Mom, I still play with my food.]

We officially concluded our Feria experience the next night by grabbing some bañuelos(the gypsy's version of the churro con chocolate) and watching the end-of-Feria-fireworks at midnight. They were so close that I could actually feel them boom as they lit up the warm dark night. After a week-long dance party, you've got to have a big finale to close it out. Sounds exactly like prom in the US, right?

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