Welcome to a real, Spanish bull fight. Before coming to Spain, I thought bull fighting would be a cultural thing from the past, more of something to remember, but the people here love this! My host dad is a bull fighting fanatic and knows all the bull fighters and information. So in honor of Manolo, I will explain to you the bull fight and show you some pictures from our first, and probably last, bull fight. Disclaimer: I will tone it down a bit but it can be brutal and I apologize if the explanations or pictures are too much.

First off, the stadium is absolutely beautiful. The bull fighters this day were not the big name fighters, but the place was still packed! It reminded me of going to the Cardinal baseball games in the spring, except an entirely different concept.

The bull fight begins by the bull entering into the ring where 6 fighters await him. Upon entrance, he is stabbed behind his neck and between his shoulders, where he can see the fabric on the blade from the corner of his eye, which drives him nuts. Then the bull runs between the bull fighters waving fabrics, attempting to wear him out.

Built into the stadium are escape routes for the fighters. They can slip through an opening and hide behind a wall, leaving the bull extremely confused and trying to run into the wall.

After the 6 bull fighters wear him out a bit, 2 of them come at the bull and put two blades behind its neck.

After the bull is weakening, the real bull fighter comes out alone. His job is to wear the bull out more before he finishes the deal. Also, every time the bull chases the red fabric, the blades are twisting and digging deeper into it’s neck weakening it even more.

If I had to sum up bull fighting in one word it would be: masculinity. The bull fighters are ultimately showing they are stronger than the bull and they approach the bull hips thrust forward exposing themselves. After countless minutes of the bull chasing the fighter’s fabric, the fighter sticks in the final blade and waits for the bull to lie down.

If the crowd thinks the bull fighter was spectacular, they wave their hats and the bull fighter receives an ear of the bull. If the crowd believes the bull was brave and put up a good fight, horses come out and drag the bull in a circle around the ring before taking him away.

This experience was different from anything I’ve ever seen, but it was fun to see something so dear to their culture. After the bull fight, I was leaving and stumbled across a piece of street art of a matador, the bull fighter. I took some pictures of the grafiti and exited the stadium and the artist had his studio open and had the stencil he used up, so I got to talk to him about the stencil. It was cool to see even a younger Spaniard embracing in the culture in a completely different way.

-Aly

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