I can officially say that I never want to be a bullfighter. After going to a corrida del toros, I can fully appreciate the art of bullfighting. What a thrill.
Let me paint you a picture of the building because that was half the experience. This building is from the
18th century, and was one of the first plazas built in Spain. The architecture is so cool and definitely unique. The building is a large donut shape with a big arena in the middle where all the good stuff happens.
There are 2 different types of seats you can purchase. There are the cheap seats, called the sol, ad there are the more expensive seats called the sombra. what’s the difference? Well, sol in Spanish means sun and sombra means shade. I think you can make the connection. Being the cheap college student that I am, I definitely purchased the sol seat :) the only thing about those seats is that most of them are out in the open, not under the balcony and it was supposed to rain that night. I lucked out because my seat happened to be under the balcony for some reason, but I didn’t complain.
Finding me seat was a task. My seat wasn’t by all of my friends, so I journeyed off on my own to find my seat. After getting lost in the giant building, I asked a man where gate 11 was because it was not next to gate 12. Turns out I had to walk outside of the fenced area and half way around the building to get to my gate. On the plus side, I got to see the toreros enter the building. They are like rockstars here. There were girls with flowers, tv camera men, and police men. They must be some pretty important guys.
Now some more about the toreros. These men start bullfighting as young as 18 years old, and they actually go to school to be a bullfighter! I couldn’t imagine. Some do it because it is what their dad and grandpa did or because the love it, and some do it solely for the money. I hear they make bank, so if anyone is looking to switch careers, you should look into bullfighting :) That could be fun.
The torero’s traje de luces (suit) is a work of art in itself. It is brightly colored and has more sparkles than Ke$ha’s music videos. But seriously, they look like disco balls with legs running around in the arena. It is pretty cool when the sun reflects off of the suits. They also have a capote (cape) to get the bull’s attention to make it charge. They use it just as anyone would picture. Flapping their capes off to the side of their bodies, the toreros wait for the bull to charge. Once the bull is close, they swoop the cape past their bodies along with the bull. This is called “passing.” I never knew how close the bull actually is to the torero when he is charging by. The better the torero, the closer they let the bull get. When some of the better toreros were “passing“, the bull looked like it was only a foot away! That must be scary!
Something else that I didn’t know is that there are roughly 8 different toreros per bullfight with an emphasis in 2 in specific. They all take turns “passing” to read the bull’s movements and “get to know the bull better,” as if they were taking it out on a date or something. They don’t do this the whole time; there are actually 3 different stages of the fight.
Before the bull comes out into the arena, the main torero gets down onto his knees and positions himself for the bull’s entrance. He remains on his knees as the bull runs out into the arena and charges at him. Crazy stuff.
WARNING I WILL BE TALKING ABOUT BLOOD AND THE ACTUAL KILLING OF THE BULL NOW, SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT, STOP READING NOW.
The first stage is the “passings“. After a while a torero on horseback comes out with a long spear to take his stab at the bull. Literally. The bull charges the horse (it has some sort if armor protecting it from the bull’s horns) and the torero on the horse spears the bull right in the weak part of its neck. The bull starts to bleed, but is still pretty strong. Each step is designed to weaken the bull a little more. After the torero on horseback leaves, they do more “passing“. At this point the bull is still going strong, or as strong as he can be going I guess. We actually saw one torero get caught by the bull’s horns and get thrown to the ground. Nothing really bad happened, and let’s be honest, I’ve seen better hockey fights.
For the second stage, the toreros have the bull charge them, but instead of a cape, they have 2 giant darts that they stick into the same part of the bull’s neck. This weakens the bull more and decorates him with some pretty darts. One of the times when I was watching this happen, the bull turned on the torero and started chasing him down. The torero ran and quickly jumped over the side of the arena. I don’t blame him!
For the third and final stage, the main torero comes back onto the arena, but this time with a red cape and a sword. He does some fancy “passes” with the bull to tire him out even more. To show his dominion over the bull, the torero will stand face to face with the bull, KIDS, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!! Once he believes that the bull is weak enough, the torero lines up with his sword, charges the bull, and thrusts the sword into the sick muscle of the bull and through his heart. When the bull falls to the ground, the whole arena cheers and shouts ¡OLÉ! What a thrill!
After the bull is dead, horses decked out in bells dragging a harness of some sorts run into the ring and drag the bull out of the ring.
For those of you who think bullfighting is just a bunch of bull, think what you want. I see it as a cultural aspect of Spain that people are still celebrating to this day. This is such an old tradition, and I think it is cool that young people are still taking an interest in this tradition and art. And also, they sell and eat each toro after a bullfight, so its not like the meat is going to waste. This is just my personal opinion about bullfighting; you can think whatever you want, but I do not want to fight anyone over an opinion about bullfights.
Overall, this was a really sweet opportunity, and I am really glad that I went to see a bullfight while I was in Spain!