The longer I stay in Sevilla, the more I realise what the city is really like. Don’t get me wrong, Sevilla is a great place to live, but over time, like any city I guess, I’ve started to wonder if I really belong here. In my previous blog I made it quite clear that I’m more of a Semana Santa type of guy, and even though I think the Feria is a great festival, there are a few things that do my head in. I can manage one afternoon and evening at the Feria tops, any more then I’d just end up fuming inside. But why, what is it that bugs me about the Feria?
The repetitive music
I love music, and I’m a fan of Spanish music. They have some great artists and I rarely have to turn the radio station over, unless I’m listening to Copla. I particularly enjoy listening to flamenco, which is why my novel is connected with it, but I couldn’t listen to it all damn week.
The problem with the Feria is that in the casetas all they play is Sevillanas. It’s the constant ring ting ting ting ting, ring ting ting ting ting that gets on my goat, and the tick tick tick, tick tick tick of the castanets that peck at my head like a woodpecker on speed.
If you have spotify, then type in Sevillanas and scroll down the songs and play the first 10 seconds of each one you’ll see they are all the same. I don’t know how the locals know which one is their favourite because they are all identical.
It might be bearable if they had some mini breaks where they threw in the odd pop song, or even a corny ballad at the end of the night, but that’s tricky I guess, because there is never an official end.
Being an English teacher isn’t the best paid job in the world, so money is always tight over here. Even if I loved the Feria, I’d probably have to get out a small loan to be able to afford going every day.
“You’ll never guess how much a jug of rebujito was at the Feria,” “And a plate of jamon, it’s a joke!” tend to be the reoccurring comments once it’s over.
It always astonishes me how Sevillanos manage to go to the Feria all week. The cost is tremendous. Typical prices include the following:
Flamenco dress: €100-€1,500
Hire a horse and carriage to get there: €100-150
8 different rides on Hell Street: €30-€60
Ticket for the caseta: €50-200 for the week.
Plate of jamon: €8-16
Tortilla de patatas: €5-10
Torilla de camarones: €4-6
Plate of calamares, cazon adobo, gambas: €6-12
Plata of cold meats (chancinas): €8-12
Salmorejo / gazpacho: €3-5
Jug of rebujito: €8-12
Mini bottle of manzanilla: €5-8
Glass of wine: €1.50-3
Bottle of wine: €8-20
So depending on how you want to party it up you can spend between €30 and €500 a day, not including the dress. This is just your average Sevillano, what about the owners of the casetas?
Apparently it can cost up to €18,000 for a medium sized caseta, and between €6,000 and £9,000 for a smaller one of 70M2. That’s not including costs of security, €350 per day, a flamenco band, €3,000 for the week, plus about €1,000 to the government for the license. So that’s why it’s such a big deal, 1,000 casetas x €1,000 makes a tidy sum of €1,000,000 for the lovely government. I wonder where that goes…
I’m guessing the caseta owners make some profit, but I’m not sure because I know they have to pay for their own food and drinks. The mind boggles. A holiday abroad would do me fine thanks.
The essence of the Feria
Let’s be honest, the Feria is mainly for the wealthier members of Sevilla’s elite society. Those who can afford to hire a horse and carriage for a week, splash out on eating plates of jamon until their fingers become sticky and grimy, and have a different flamenco dress for each day of the week.
The Feria is all about ‘el presumir’ – showing off. It’s about who has the most expensive suit or dress or the most slick hair cut, and who can arrive in the carriage on the shiniest horse with the jingliest bells. As you walk about you can see how arrogant some people are, how they just have to show their face at the Feria, to let the world know they are there and they have money. It would be interesting to know how much of the money is actually theirs though, and how much of it they will be paying back over the year on a loan.
For the average Pepe Bloggs, if you don’t know anyone who owns a caseta then you have to go to the public ones, which are normally full of drunken louts, nutters, and niñatos (chavs). They are not very well kept, and fights often break out in the early hours of the morning. Not to mention the annoying guiris who steal the bands drums.
The atmosphere is completely different in each festival and normally you are either a Semana Santa fan, or a Feria one. But there are the few people who are both. One minute they are a religious believer, being kind to others, remembering their morals, and doing a penitence for their own personal reasons. Then, two weeks later, they are going out getting battered, causing havoc, being rude, getting into fights and generally going mental.
Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly, but you get the picture. Officially the Feria is always two weeks after Semana Santa to give people enough time to reflect before the fun and games begin. But from what I see, as soon as Semana Santa has finished everyone goes on a high waiting for the madness to commence; happy that they have cleansed their souls and can let off some steam.
So yeah, one afternoon and possibly a night (if we can get a babysitter) is plenty for me per year. What about you? Are you a Feria fan? Have you ever been to the Feria in Sevilla, or any others in Spain?