It’s October and what more appropriate way to open the new month than with a grand old Oktoberfest. That was on my agenda for the day, but I never got there because I had so many things to do. Instead I went to watch a bullfight at the Ventas ring in Madrid. It’s the Fall Festival and it closes the bullfighting season for this year, much to the relief of the bulls I imagine.
Plus it was my first time in the famed Tendido 7 which is the section where many of the hardcores fans sit. They are a serious lot and not easy to please. If they don’t like something, you can rest assured they’ll be the first to let the bullring know. I spent most of the bullfight quietly as I listened for bits and pieces of wisdom, which I they provided. For the most part I really enjoyed the Tendido 7 crowd. I expected them to be obnoxious, but they were generally quite friendly. And they were generous. Everyone shared what they had with them: doughnuts, fritters, snacks, wine from a wine sack.
Today featured a mano-a-mano matchup between the two most successful toreros in Las Ventas this year. Instead of the traditional three toreadors taking on two bulls each, there were two fighters squaring off against three snorting beasts. Expectations were high, but they were quickly reduced by the poor response by the bulls. They were subpar in ferocity. Most could not have been bothered, and one was even sent off and substituted. That happens when the president flops a green handkerchief over the wall before him. He may have been shamed, but at least he’s still alive. But the rest weren’t much better.
The only one that proved ready for a serious fight was the fifth bull. A first he didn’t seem that impressive, but things changed as events progressed. The faena was particularly good and the only momrnt when the crowd really settled down and focussed. When it came time for the kill, the bullfighter plunged his sword deep into the back, got half-gored in the process but ended up winning an ear. That was the only highlight of the entire event.
The sixth and last bull showed promise but the torero, anxious to get an ear for himself, rushed his faena and got caught by the animal early on. He recovered, but now the bull wasn’t the same. Any bull that gores a toreador is considered dangerous because it has learned not to go for the stupid red cape but instead for the little guy holding it. So, the hopes of a another ear fizzled as the bull became more and more unreliable.
There was a lot of booing going on, especially for the bulls. I hate when they do that. I now the complaining is really meant for the breeder, but the poor animal has just been tortured and killed. What about a little respect? Then again, they didn’t repesct it much when it was alive, why now?
Oh well, a bad bullfight barely saved by a moment of brilliance and extreme courage.