The portada (entrance) to the Feria at night.  AMAZING!!!!!

My bedroom growing up was decorated with vintage Feria de Abril posters, there were paper lanterns hanging on the ceiling, and lots of bright colors.  Now multiply that by about a gazillion and you get the Feria de Abril.

I had no idea what to expect at feria.  In fact, I really had no idea what Feria was.  Here’s what I knew going in:

The women all get dressed up in flamenco trajes (remember my post in Feb. about flamenco fashion week: ).

Some women in their trajes looking at the map of the feria grounds.  

Horses everywhere.  There are horses all over the city to pick wealthier Sevillanos up and take them to the fair in style.  I loved hearing the jingling bells and the clicking of the hooves throughout the city center.

Rebujito everywhere.  This is a drink made of cheap manzanilla (a fine sherry wine made in Sanlúcar de Barremeda, a town near Cádiz) mixed with 7up; I was luckily forewarned it is quite potent, yet goes down like water.  There is always a pitcher of it on hand (or in pocket–see below), and lots of plastic shot glasses to drink it.  (Please note, Spaniards are masters of keeping a happy tipsy going, it’s not about getting drunk.  You drink some, you eat a little to soak up the alcohol, then repeat.)

Yes, that is a pitcher of rebujito hanging out of his back pocket.
And yes, I asked permission to take a photo of his behind ;P

Lots of Sevillanas dancing.  Sevillanas are a folk dance from Sevilla danced at the Feria and at other big get-togethers.  Everyone knows Sevillanas (this is not after-all true, plenty of Sevillanos cannot dance Sevillanas, at least not until they’ve had plenty to drink–hence the importance of the rebujito ;).

A sevillana trying to teach a fellow Sevillano how to dance Sevillanas.
Eventually he sort of got the hang of it, sort of….

And casetas which I knew were some kind of tent/houses that families or business have.  There are also public casetas, which I was told to avoid at all costs because they aren’t much fun.

Here is a caseta.  It’s sort of like a living room/dining room.  The bigger ones are more like ballrooms.  

The Feria originated as a cattle and livestock fair–similar to State Fairs in the U.S.  It eventually evolved into more of just a Spring fair to get together.

Despite all this knowledge going in to the fair and the decor of my adolescent bedroom, I didn’t really know what feria is.  What do people do there?  Why does it exist?–I mean I am all for getting dressed up in beautiful dresses, but it was hard to get excited about something when I had no idea what it was.

Here’s a little snippets of what feria is actually all about, or at least what I experienced:

It’s about enjoying life.  It turns out I couldn’t really understand what feria is until I went, because it is something so intangible there is no way to put it into words.  It’s really just as simple as enjoying life and people.

Hay que ir a la feria porque hay que cuidar las tradiciones, si no, se desaparecen.  You have to go the feria because you have to take care of the traditions or they disappear.  (What my guitarist said during rehearsal, since we all had a little bit of resaca (a hangover) and were quite tired….)  It’s true though, and Sevillanos know how to keep up their traditions, it’s a beautiful thing to have so much pride about tradition, and be so open to sharing it with foreigners.

Sevillanas is a dance of seduction, whereas flamenco is a dance of feelings and expression.  This is what one Spaniard explained to me.  The most fun I had dancing Sevillanas was with a friend of a friend who had no idea how to dance the actual steps of the sevillanas, but he knew how to have a presence and command the space, so even though he was making the steps up (they were in rhythm), he was an excellent Sevillanas partner.

There is a link between each year’s fair because the casetas are always in the same places, so you can go back to the same casetas year after year, and be reminded of good times the year before and reunite with people you don’t usually see.  It’s a giant family/friend/city reunion.  I was even surprised at the number of Sevillanos I ran into.  I would go into one caseta with one group of friends, then randomly run into several other people I knew. You just spend the day or night like this…

You hop from caseta to caseta, drinking, talking, dancing, enjoying.  Someone knows someone who has some caseta over there–so you meet about five or six new friends, then all head to that caseta together.  You dance, you drink, you chat.  It sounds like it’s nothing, but it has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, precisely because there is just so much life at the feria.  Somehow it’s brought a lot of joy back in to my dancing, because that is what dance is–it is life, a reflection and expression of life.  And there is so much life at the Feria!

Some more photos:

I swear it seems like the streets go on forever–I had no idea the feria was so huge!

The midway–because no fair is complete without rides and a ferris wheel!

Love the colorfulness of everything and everyone!

I swear when I close my eyes, I see flamenco dresses….and I still can’t get enough of them!
Walking down Calle Asunción towards the portada.  

The portada during the day.  Very pretty!

Loved how this girl posed when she saw I was taking a pic.  

Dancing Sevillanas!

Deborah and I…we had a blast dancing to some super fast sevillanas music after several rebujitos! 😛

My friend Sara who invited me to her family’s caseta. Also an awesome Sevillana dancer!

One of the larger casetas, and this is only about half of it! 

Mary Ann and I.  So much fun dancing together!!!