I don’t know why, but I was under the impression that bullflighting was this “thing” where men ran around in a ring waving red fabrics and dodging charging bulls. I was wrong.
So, there is this place in Madrid called Plaza de Toros (toros meaning bulls in Spanish). It is a beautiful arena with arches, pillars, a scarlet-tiled roof, and banners of red and yellow like the Spanish flag. And there are seats upon seats upon seats. People come together to watch matadors take on bulls. Bullfighing is an old Spanish tradition—some would go as far as to say that it’s an art. Men spend years training to receive high scores from judges for performing specific moves. So saying that they run around “waving red things at charging bulls” does cut the surface in explaining the complexity of the tradition. This is something I did not know when my three friends and I entered the arena and climbed up to our cheap 5 euro seats. We soon found out.
Once the matador enters the arena and they let out the bull, and the attacking begins.
Spikes and spears are then jabbed into the creature. The crowd cheers, beers in hands, and the band plays until the bull is tired of bleeding and topples to the ground. When he no longer moves, men in blue shirts come out and slit the bull to make sure he is dead. They rake up the blood and let out the horses that drag the creature away, leaving a trace of blood in their ceremonial exit.
Now, I’m not saying that Spain should stop this practice. It is, after all, a long-standing tradition that has been part of the Spanish culture for centuries. But I was (unpleasantly) surprised by the reality of what actually goes on in bullfighting.