Sunday, November 11, 2012

Betis, Rafael Campallo, and Ritz Crackers


Julie and I in our new Betis scarves at the game.  

Friday night I went to my first real football game.  And no, I don't mean the American version--I still have yet to go to a NFL game, and it will likely stay that way for a long time; and American soccer doesn't really count.  Last night, I saw Real Betis play Granada.  Real Betis is one of two teams in Sevilla.  Generally, it's the team of the working class, and Sevilla F.C. is the yuppy, rich people's team, so even though I used to live right near the Sevilla stadium, I think I prefer Betis.

The outside of the stadium. 
We got to the game about ten minutes in, and we couldn't find our seats, because basically as one Spaniard explained to me, you sit wherever you want.  You can only get in to a limited section of the stands based on where your ticket actually is, but once there, it seems people sit wherever they want, so it's a good thing they have the sections closed off at least.  We picked two seats that weren't covered in sunflower seed shells.  The stadium was waaaaaay bigger than I had expected and it was pretty full--the attendance was about 37,000.  Which is a lot, considering Sevilla's population is only 700,000.

The Betis logo. 

Although I'm not a soccer fan, I loved how not commercialized the whole thing is, unlike American sports.  There are a few advertisements in the stadium, but there are no shopping malls, no overpriced huge concession stands, and no ridiculously overpriced team apparel (I bought an official Betis scarf for 5 euros).  It's all about the game.  When a team scores, everyone goes wild.  When they almost score, there's a collective holding of breath, and then a collective sigh.  The cheering and chanting doesn't seem to stop, except at half time, when everyone takes out their bocadillos or sandwiches of ham or sausage they've wrapped in tinfoil.  It's also pretty typically Andalusian in the amount of curse words that are shouted--there is really no such thing as profanity in Andalucía because it is used everywhere all the time.  You can't walk down the street for more than a minute without hearing someone shout "¡Coño!" (and you can just google that if you want to know what it means....)

Anyways, the game was quite exciting--Granada scored early on, then Betis tied things up and the momentum after that really took off.  Unfortunately, towards the end of the game Granada scored.  But I had a great time and would definitely go to another game.

Rafael Campallo

On Thursday night, I saw Rafael Campallo perform.  I've seen him several times before, mostly at the Festival in Albuquerque.  He dances fairly traditionally, but what makes him a really great dancer is that  he makes you feel like you're just hanging out with him in his living room.  He just has fun with his dancing and seems completely comfortable on stage.  At one point, he was executing a complicated escobilla or footwork section and rolling up his sleeves at the same time; if you looked just at his upper body, you'd never know his feet were making such intricate rhythms because he was so calm, casual and present.  

The best part of the show was definitely when Campallo danced por tangos.  He improvised this section, and the interplay between him and singer José Valencia was incredible.  They both were just having fun choosing when to sing, when to dance, how to respond to one another, etc.  I felt like Campallo was a just a kid having fun on a playground after school with some friends.  Again, that relaxed nature is what makes him an exceptional dancer.  Campallo ended the show with a solo por alegrias, another upbeat rhythm where his enjoyment in dancing also clearly came through.  It's hard not to enjoy watching him when you can see how much fun he is having on stage.

And look, even Rafael Campallo is a Betis fan! ;P

Ritz it up!

So it turns out I may be slightly homesick, and it comes out in the strangest ways--I don't really feel homesick; yes there are many things, people, and places I miss, but I'm so happy to be here in Sevilla doing what I love that I haven't really felt homesick.  I've got both Spanish and American friends here, and I can focus myself entirely on flamenco which is all I can ask for in life.  But I went for a walk through the Corte Inglés grocery store (the Corte Ingles is basically like Macy's but with a grocery store too) and ended up getting super excited because they had Ritz crackers and Quaker oats.  So although I already had a box of oatmeal at home, I bought the oats, and the crackers, and some horseradish (that was supposed to be "picante" (spicy) but was incredibly flavorless and bland, of course).  So I had a snack of Ritz crackers with chestnut marmalade, which was amazing and I highly recommend that combination, also try it with some Manchego cheese too....

I think that was a sign though that I do miss a lot of things back in the states.  Not just silly things like that, but people and places.

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