Today I decided to hang with the locals and participate in an event that is popular here in Madrid. I chose the bull fight since it was outdoors and wanted to enjoy the weather a bit more.
Taking the metro from Sol station, I was already hanging out upon my return from Amsterdam, to the Ventas station on the red line was very easy. Once you exited the Metro station the arena is directly in front of you, Plaza de Toros – Las Ventas. Ticket agent are out front of the arena.
The fights started at 7PM and there were a boat load of us coming out of the metro station around 6:30 so no chance of getting lost. I walked around for a bit trying to find somewhere to charge my phone. I was on E and my phone was my only capturing the event. I found a place a half mile up the road. I purchased and water and posted up for 15 minutes to get at least a 5% charge.
I ran back to the arena because I did not want to miss the start. I purchased a little butt cushion for 1 euro and head to my seat. I was able to make it to my seat in time for the first fight. Bad thing is I was seated next to a woman who just lit up a cigarette.
I had never watched a bullfight before so had not idea what to expect. The gate opens and a big brown pull enters the bullring. Already in the ring are:
- A guy on horse back that guides the bull. During the first stage of the bullfight the picador enters the arena on horseback armed with a vara (lancer). The horse is protected from the bull by a petro, a protective mattress-like covering
- Each matador has 3 banderilleros or “Flagmen” who are also considered as toreros or bullfighters. They perform in the first and second third of the event
- “Bull Killer” is the professional level of a bullfighter.
On the side you have the Mozo Espadas handing the Matador all the equipment necessary during the fight.
So now the event starts. The Banderilleros flag the bull and the Picadore guides the bull piecing its head whenever he tries to ram the Picadore via the horses underbelly. The horse is well armed so that the bull does not hurt it. This lasts for the first 10 minutes.
The next 10 minutes or so the Banderilleros pierce the bull near his head with 2 sharp lancers. The lancers are long poll like objects with a sword like tip. The tail end that is held by the Banderillero is very colorful. All three Banderilleros pierce the bull with their 2 lancers (6 total stabbings to the bull).
At this point the bull is bleeding pretty badly and breathing very heavily. You can tell that his pace has slowed from when he first entered the bullring.
The last minutes of the fight the Metador flags down the bull yet tiring him a little more. Then the Mozo Espada hands the Metador a sword. This is when the bull gets the final stabbing to the middle of his head (actually heart) by the Metador. The bull will charge initially then fall over to his death. The crowd goes crazy and claps for joy.
A chariot of three horses come out and the bull is affixed to the chariot. They pull the dead bull away from the ring so the next fight can begin.
So…. This was too much for me. I could not stomach watching the brutal killings for what to me seemed like entertainment. I watched two events to get an understanding of the structure of the event and the crowd’s response and then I left early.
The crowd consisted of people from as young as around six. Based on my research, bullfighting is considered a cultural event and an art form which is deeply understood by the Spaniards. Barcelona has done away with its tradition and converted their bullring into a large shopping mall. Madrid, on the other hand, still practices the tradition.
I do not foresee myself ever attending another bullfight. This was definitely a learning experience. Without these experiences one can not grow!0