25 Sep

So we went to a bull fight on Friday, and it was quite the experience. As I’ve told my host mother and friends, I enjoyed it as a cultural experience, and I am glad that I went, but I don’t accept it as a form of entertainment (they broadcast this on tv… seriously?) and I don’t think I’ll ever find the desire to go again… I am going to explain this in probably more graphic detail than many would like to read about, so I will not be offended if you skip this post. (There will be pictures…)

Also, I must warn you that in my head, I narrated the bullfight. My inner voice was dripping with sarcasm and a slight irritation, and I think the comments on my pictures on Facebook were also. Sooo don’t expect anything different I suppose. Just a warning.

Okay, so Friday. Walking to the Plaza de Toros, probably one of the few times I’ve ever walked anywhere completely by myself, usually I’m with Savannah or other friends, so this was an adventure (I played Pocahontas’ Colors of the Wind in Spanish as I walked. It set the mood nicely I think).

It was really crowded near the Plaza. I dropped my phone trying to find my wallet, and a super great guy handed it back to me before a car could run over it.  Then I found friends, but not the friends who had my ticket… Sigh. My life. Anywho, we finally went in to the Plaza and it is beautiful. Seriously. I could sit and look at it (and take pictures of it) all day, and I mostly did.

I think the best way to approach this is to tell the story in pictures, because this truly is an art form. There are certain things that happen in each fight, and after six bulls, you sort of catch on. So, prepare yourself for some bloody toros.

I'm pretty sure this was my favorite part. The whole event begins with a parade of these beautiful horses, the matadores, and the horses that will be in the ring with the bulls.

This is my friend Liz and I being all 'happy happy unaware' before toro death.

As a reference point, this is after I became aware.








And so it begins- the first bull comes out, and three or four matadors are waiting with their yellow and pink capote– cape. Let me just say, I was quite in awe of their costumes. They were beautiful. Super ornate, and all different colors. We talked about them by their color. “Look, red is going into the ring.” “Oh cool, where is gold?” And so on.

The first bull- this one was kind of small, they got bigger as time went on.

Sometimes the bull got really mad at the matadors and would chase them behind the gates- and then glare at them.

Sometimes the bull got the cape- I always imagine him going 'HA take that you stupid thing! How do you like me NOW!?' That makes it even more enjoyable.

Next, the horses came out. This part was always the most stressful for me. I told Savannah before I left… if a pony went down I was going to punch a bull in the face.

This part included horses (yay), but the point of the horses was for the bulls to run into them, potentially knocking them over (not yay) so that the guy on horseback could spear the bull repeatedly.

Remember how I was basically going to have a panic attack if a pony got hurt?

Wanted to cry.

Its only the first bull, and the pony goes down. Seriously?

Its fine though, because the pony was a champ.

P.S. that blood on that protective gear is from the bull that got stabbed a few times while he was knocking the pony over. Note: the horses were blindfolded. I did a presentation on horses of Andalucia (the southernmost region of Spain of which Sevilla is a part) a few days before the fight, and according to PETALatino, these horses have their vocal cords cut so they don’t annoy the crowd, and they also may be injected with meds for their eyes so they don’t freak out, in addition to being blindfolded. These things make sense from an entertainment aspect (if I were that horse and I were getting knocked over by a bull, I’d probably freak out too…), but I am seriously, seriously hoping that it isn’t true. I don’t like that one bit. ((Also to note:: according to wikipedia, prior to 1930, the horses didn’t wear protective gear and usually more horses died than bulls during a bullfight. AH. Glad I didn’t have to see that…))

So next, they have guys who come out with what seem to me like barbed sticks. They shove them into the back of the bull, weakening it. The grace with which they do this is amazing, and I will demonstrate in pictures::

Striking essentially a flamingo pose, these guys provoke the bulls usually by yelling, and then slam these sticks into their backs.

Watch closely now, as the flamingo takes flight!!

This happens three times, and once there are six ish sticks coming out of the toro’s back, things get real serious, real quick.

The matador brings out the red cape.

Then, they play a game of back and forth. The crowd cheers as the matador gets the bull to run back and forth over and over. Then, it gets even more serious, as if that were possible, as the bull just chills calmly in the ring while the matador goes and retrieves his sword. Bah. I hate this part.

They play chase the red cape a few more times, then the matador takes this stance- this is a stance of doom, sword raised, cape down.

And then it happens:

Death of the toro.

This part sometimes takes a while. The first matador wasn’t all that great, and barely stuck his sword in the bull. Three times. It was horrific. When they do it right, however, the sword goes all the way in, and the bull usually coughs up blood, and falls over and dies.

Then the mules or donkeys or whatever come with their happy jingle bells to take the toro away, while the maintenance guys clean up for the next round.

This is how it goes. Six times. Almost the exact same thing, though sometimes with a different color toro. And that my friends, is bull fighting (or at least what I have learned from it.)

My friend Taryn put together an amazing video that really clearly displays all the different parts of the bull fight, and if I can get it from her I will try to post it on here, or at least a link to it, for those of you who want to see it, and think you can handle it (I couldn’t. I got shaky around the fourth toro.)

A few final pictures with a few final thoughts.
Also: If anyone is interested, here is the link to the wikipedia article on bullfighting. There is a lot more specific information about the style and reasons for each part of the fight. Pretty interesting.
Til next time,

Meh. I'm just an awesome matador. Applaud me as a bull stares me down and could potentially run at me any second and destroy me. Yeeeeeah applause.

Oh hey, just killed some toros. NBD. Making bank wearing tight outfits and pink socks.

Friends 😀 (I'm trying not to look too traumatized.)


2 Responses to “Toros”

  1. Meg September 28, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    It kinda made me sad. Interesting but sad. Pobre ponies!

    • Jess September 28, 2011 at 8:33 am #

      I know right? Not a huge fan, but according to some new articles bullfighting was banned in Catalonia, so hard to say how long this tradition will last. I feel lucky to have been able to go, although I will never go again 😛

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