A couple of days ago I have a call from BigJo. (As some people are Anglo-Portuguese or Spanish-Italian, BigJo is a Cascais-Marbellan who knows more about Madrid life at its rarefied heights than most). He invites me to his birthday party: "In Seville, midnight at a "caseta" at number so and so of Calle Pepe Luiz Vazquez". Now, some clarification is needed at this point. What we are talking about here is the Feria de Sevilla and the tradition of having a kind of non-humanitarian Tent City for the duration of the Fair. Each house-like tent is called a "caseta", and mostly are in bright coloured stripes, like beach huts in good-old times in off-Venice Lido. Almost a small city of "casetas", aligned side by side, on neatly drawn streets which all have names of famous "toreros". So fast forward to when I pay the cab-driver at the entrance of the Feria (which will only be officially opened the following day) and to the moment my excellent-bred, elegant as whipets, Italian shoes feel for the first time the un-velvety touch of the ochre-dust non-asphalt calles.
Couple of steps later I find the street I wanted, having turned correctly to the right at the intersection with calle Juan Belmonte. (Pepe Luiz Vazquez is a famous "Matador" and well deserves the accolade from the Fair organizers. I'll photoblog accordingly very soon ). At the linoleum flap that serves as door, BigJo receives his guests. Crooners of the Sevillan sub-species of pop song performance are tuning their instruments. Jerez and bubbly from Mstrs. Moët & Co starts to flow. One tries to reply to socialite-smiles from both sides of the Portugal-Spain virtual Shengen border. Flamenco musicians from both the Hola! and the gipsy varieties would play later on. Difficult to tell who's who, in national ID terms, and sometimes you end up talking to a compatriot in the "wrong" language.
Most of the insiders are going to stay in Seville for the week. The Feria times, a local brand to be added to the list of non-negotiable holiday prospects. (snowy slopes for ski aficionados / southern hemisphere palm trees warmness during northern European winter / traditional Summer with sea,sun,sex and sangria). The "casetas" resemble beach-huts, the drinking and dancing atmosphere is of the summer holidays type, only the water is missing. Diving in the bull-ring an equivalent, perhaps?
(A former President of a Big Football Club tells amazing and hilarious behind-the-scenes stories. I think the best was the one involving a superstitious manager/coach and the late night unearthing of some voodooish chickens buried behind the goal posts. Off-record rules prevent me to go further, but it was a good surrealistic story, ending in a disastrous football result that seems to deny the efficiency of mambo jumbo in the premier league.)