“Don’t listen to what they say. Go see.” -Chinese Proverb
When you think of Spain, you think of bullfights. Even though I had a feeling I would hate every minute of it, I knew would regret returning to the U.S. without having seen one. I have heard many different opinions on bullfighting since I’ve been in Spain, so I wanted to go see what it was all about for myself.
Before I get to the gore, here’s a photo of my psuedo-family! They come over for lunch almost every Saturday, but this was the first time since I’ve been here that all of them could make it.
I met up with some friends at La Plaza de Toros at Las Ventas. My señora had told me that even if I had to leave after they kill the first bull (there are a total of 6 bulls killed every fight) I needed to at least go see the stadium and experience the ambiance.
We sat all the way at the top, but for 4,70 euros, I couldn’t have asked for much more. We still had a clear view and I was perfectly happy being as far away from the action as possible. However, we were on the opposite side of the sun, so we were practically baking. It’s October in Madrid and still in the 80s!
The stadium was completely packed and the interesting part is that the majority of spectators aren’t tourists. Bullfights are still apparently a normal weekend afternoon activity for many Spaniards.
The best part of the bullfight is the aesthetic appeal of the outfits. They are intricate, colorful, and even include neon pink socks!
VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED for the remainder of this post
The first bull (the black one above) came out and ran around the ring, while the toreros (bullfighters) taunted him with cape and then hid behind spaces in the wall. They stabbed him a couple times during which I screamed, of course. I think the first stab was the worst part of the whole fight because, as much as I hate to say it, I got a bit desensitized to it went on. However, something was wrong with this particular bull and they determined he was not fit for the fight. They let in 8 other bulls (the black and white ones) who in turn ushered the other bull out. Although I’m still unsure exactly why, one life was saved!
The second bull was definitely less feisty to start off with than the first, but he just needed a few minutes to warm up.
In this photo, one of the toreros had just fallen on the ground and abandoned not only his cape, but also his shoes and hat. I guess if your life is on the line it’s okay to get your bright pink socks dirty.
The red and white spears in the bull’s back are banderillas, which are used to weaken the bull.
Eventually, he died :[
The torero is getting ready to stab the bull with the banderillas. It’s pretty wild to watch because he lets the bull charge toward him, jumps up, stabs him, then manages to run away without being attacked.
My friends and I left halfway through the fight with the 5th bull. At that point, I felt like I had seen all I needed to and I was surprised that I had even made it past the first killing.
Even though I still disagree with the fact that a sport is centered around animal abuse, I’m glad I experienced a bullfight. It is important to Spanish culture and history, plus the ambiance truly is unbelievable. It is something that I needed to witness once in my life and I never have to attend again.