Rough Rules of La Feria de Abril

26 Apr

I may not be an expert, and of course I am Australian, not Andalusian, but good eyes and common sense tell me several of the rules of this game. Ignore them at your peril.

General Rules:

Nice as it might be you don’t need a special costume for Feria but you do need to dress smartly as you’ll be in lots of other people’s photos and maybe on TV! There is also the chance you’ll bump into someone and be invited into a private caseta so make an effort.

As explained to me by two charming gentlemen in the bar of the Caseta Distrito Nervion, beer gives a good buzz but Fino is better as it has fewer side effects. Toilets are disaster zones after the first hour.

Feria horses are still horses and do unpredictable things like walk backwards and knock the plates and glasses out of your hands then knock you over (yep, saw it). You can avoid them altogether by going after 8pm.

Thursday night is dress up night and pretty wild so be prepared for anything from trannies on roller blades to Captain Jack Sparrow and lots of broken glass. Ambulances are at the ready!

Ladies’ Rules: There are traje designs to suit all types but women of a certain age should cover crepey cleavage with a manton (shawl). Check the back as well as the front of your dress, that little white drawstring hanging out at the top of the zip spoils your whole look darling. No backs cut down to the waist or see-through tops please unless you want to be mistaken as a paid escort. Wherever you wear them flowers should be smaller than your head or you look unbalanced. Mantillas are fine at weddings but not Feria -too much. If you smoke slap on a nicotine patch and leave the fags at home. And lose the hand bag – use the secret pocket under the skirt ruffle for your mobile phone and money. Don’t whatever you do tuck your mobile into your cleavage! There is both dust and mud so hem length should finish at the top of the heel. So many costumes were spoilt by women tramping around holding up their skirts. And try to cross your legs at the ankles when riding side saddle or you’ll resemble Humpty Dumpty before the fall.

Gentlemens’ Rules: Non-equestrians only have a few clothes choices, i.e. smart suit and tie or navy blazer or light coloured trousers and smart long sleeved shirt. Boys’ dress code seems to be bright check shirts. Sevillanas is a four-part fairly complicated partner dance. If you have never learnt it and have two left feet just keep buying the drinks, don’t try to woo a senorita by dancing with her.

Parents’ Rules: Any child under seven will at some stage crash and burn. Take the stroller. The footpath is not the place for your children to go to the toilet. See under general rule for unpredictability of horses and consider the horse s#*t. There is enough to lose a small child in. Buy candy floss in a bucket. The stick kind will fall off and precipitate a tantrum.

Kids’ Rule’: And finally, children if you have the privilege of riding around in a carriage or on horseback at least try to look like you are having fun. I saw so many bored brats. If you don’t want to ride let me!

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