Friday, May 14, 2010

Flamenco in...Barcelona?! C'est la Feria d'Abril!

{{Yo nunca olvidaré el último vals}}

La Feria d'Abril is put on by the Federación de Entidades Culturales Andaluzas en Catalunya (Federacion of Andalusian Cultural Entities in Catalunya) to celebrate the annual Ferias that are held throughout Andalucia, the most famous being in Sevilla. In Andalucia, the ferias completely shut down the cities and turn everything in festivities, music, food, and good sherry, but here the Southern-style merriment was carried out only in the Parc del Fòrum by the Mediterranean shore.

The event was amazingly fun, even though it rained the entire evening I was there. The entire fairgrounds of the Fòrum is covered in small tents selling traditional Andalusian cheeses, sausages, succulent Pernil ham, fresh-distilled olive oils, sherry, and beautiful red wines. Some even gave away samples! (I had quite a bit at one cheese sellers' stall....but it was too good to just have one little piece!). There were also stalls selling traditional flamenco outfits, churro carts (though none will ever have a place in my heart like churro man in Urubamba!), mini-restaurants with absolutely amazing cheap food (octopus! paella! patatas bravas! ham! calamaris! roasted sausages!), and a memorable tent filled with herbs and spices to cure different ailments and make you feel better (I saw at least 5 different products advertising how to stop you from smoking, which are desperately needed here in Spain).

But the most important stalls were the larger tents with wooden floors that were specifically set up for flamenco dancers. In some, everyone sat back and enjoyed Andalusian specialty dishes while groups of professional flamenco dancers performed for them; in others, everyone, from smiling grandmas to energetic little kids excited to be up past bedtime, danced together in the middle, stopping every once and a while to refresh themselves with tapas or a glass of wine. The excited, festive spirit was contagious and I couldn't help but smile as I watched all the different couples dancing, celebrating their native heritage here in Catalunya. The dance is instilled into them from when they are young; it is so much a part of their culture that it is not a thing to be forgotten, but something that a moment inspires, gathering people together in a circle as they clap for a couple in the center, strangers before made compatriots by the rhythm and their dance.

If I couldn't be in Sevilla this year to celebrate the biggest Feria in Andalucia, I'm glad I got to enjoy a taste of the South here in my city! And soon I'll get to see just what Andalucia is like when Mom and I depart Barcelona for our Spain vacation next Friday.

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