Thursday, March 19, 2015

Valencia and the Las Fallas Bullfight 2015

Tuesday, 17 March, 2015 (Part II):

As I mentioned in my last post, this day was so full of adventure that I thought it best to break it up into two parts.

Part I was all things Las Fallas related, while Part II is about our evening at Los Toros.

The Plaza de Toros was decked out

At 5:00 p.m., Laurie and I were primed and ready for the start of the fifth of nine scheduled corrida evenings in Valencia's Plaza de Toros that are all part of the Las Fallas experience. To be sure, there were several anti-bullfighting chants to be heard from a group of about 50 people across the street from the Plaza but we did not let that stop us from going to see one of Spain's unique cultural traditions.

A little mounted police presence
helped ease the tension in the streets

 The arena would only be about 75%
full this evening

We had purchased the more expensive seats on the Sombra, i.e., shady side of the arena. Due to the overcast skies , there was no Sol or sunny side today.


Hey, is that Papa Hemingway
in the Arena?

This corrida featured three veteran Matadors, Juan José Padilla, Miguel Abellán and Diego Urdiales.

Juan José Padilla

 Miguel Abellán

Diego Urdiales

Ganaderia Alcurrucen

Each Matador would fight two bulls this evening. The six bulls that they would fight were from the Ganaderia Alcurrucen that had been raising bulls for the Fiesta Brava since 1950.

I know that many are abhorrent about the entire spectacle that is bullfighting. I am not one of those and only wish for a bit of tolerance from you just I am tolerant of your views, unless your name is Ruth.

One of tonight's Matadors, 41 year old Juan José Padilla, lost an eye in the bull ring in Zaragoza back in 2011 and still has the courage/cojones to return to the ring.

If you want to see, it is DEFINITELY not for the weak of heart, what one of these 550+ kg./1,200 lbs. bulls can do to a human being, click on this link: 

 The Arena looked ready

The Corrida Procession Started

Official looking riders

Picadors on heavily protected horses


Each of the three Matadors in front were leading out their hand picked and trusted Banderilleros and Picadors who would all help tame and kill the bulls,' as well as come to their Matador's rescue if needed.


They will drag the bull carcass out after each fight to be delivered to the butchers to sell the meat that many will partake of at meals during the next few days.

Banderilleros warming-up

 Here's how I plan to help my Matador

I'll attract the bull towards
the Picadors like this

 First bull of the evening
#101, Sucesor, 550 kilos

He would be Juan José Padilla's first bull.

Sucesor prancing

Padilla testing Sucesor

Picadors need love too

Easily the most disliked people to enter the arena, Picadors do the very necessary job of inflicting a maximum of two pics into the bull's neck to start weakening the muscles to help make his Matador's job easier at the Moment of Truth that concludes each 20 minute bullfight.

 Not responsive

As the corrida wore on, two things became very evident.

First, the six Alcurrucen bulls were not aggressive.

Secondly, the three Matadors would do everything that they could to give us the best corrida possible with these apathetic animals.

Nice Pass

Banderillero at work

 Sucesor was now ready for the faena

The faena is the last third of the fight where the Matador uses the muleta and sword.

Padilla with the muleta

Bringing him close

 Matadors DO strut


On one knee

 Tag, you're it

Juan José Padilla, what are you . . .

. . . DOING!!!

 Good sword thrust by Padilla


Sucesor was dead but he just did not know it yet as he refused to go down. 

Padilla decided to end it quickly

Padilla could have tried sinking another normal sword but instead opted for the t-shaped one you see here to end the fight with a quick thrust to the bull's brain.

It worked.

Second bull of the evening
#54, Rompe-Charcos, 536 kilos

Miguel Abellán, you're up!

Abellán making a nice pass
near the Barrera

The big picture

Hold on, 1,200 lbs. of fury attacking

That horn is close


 Wonderful pass

 Rompe-Charcos leaping a bit


 Another good sword thrust

Abellán urging his bull
to give up the fight

Abellán's efforts earned him a Vuelta
to hear the aficionado's applause

 Third bull of the evening
#24, Flautista, 555 kilos

Let's see what Diego Urdiales can do with him.

 Sizing each other up

Urdiales dedicating the bull to
someone not in the cheap seats

 Awesome pass

 " . . . but keep your enemies closer."

Diego, you ARE in control now . . .

 Diego's first sword hit bone

The second sword hit home

So now we were half way through the corrida and despite good efforts against listless bulls, no one had cut an ear.

It was at this point that I opted to put away my good Nikon camera as the light was going away and I just wanted to take everything in for the three bulls.

This turned out to be a mistake but thankfully, Laurie plugged away with our small Sony camera.

With the fourth bull of the day and his second, Juan José Padilla decided to go all out.

First he made three passes after the 541 kilo bull named Barbito came out of the chute on two knees!

 Then he opted to place all six
banderillas himself

The second pair while
standing on the Barrera

And the last pair with just one hand

The crowd was going crazy, as was I.

Bravery in the arena is the desired attribute and Padilla had tons of it with this bull.

After a good faena, it was time for the kill and, hopefully, an ear or two to be awarded.

Padilla had Barbito lined up for the kill.

Barbito's front hooves were together thus opening his shoulder blades for easier sword penetration.

Padilla was on his tip-toes sighting down his sword ready to thrust it home and . . .

That's when it happened.

Barbito decided to take a knee.

No make that two knees.

No, he just collapsed and died on his own.

The report in the local newspapers was that he died of an infarction.

That was a new one on me. I had never heard of such a thing happening.

Without the kill, Padilla could not be awarded anything. He was clearly upset by the happenings but mostly by the weak effort that all of the Alcurrucen bulls were showing on this now chilly night.

 The lights were on and the crowd
was quickly thinning

The last two bullfights were also devoid of greatness as the bulls just would not cooperate.

By the end, I think that most in attendance would have been quite happy to see the owner of the Ganaderia Alcurrucen dragged around ring once by the Arrastre team of horses.

So ended our night at
Valencia's Plaza de Toros

We are not done with the Fiesta Brava just yet.

We already have our tickets for this Sunday's 5:00 p.m. bullfight in Murcia's Plaza de Toros featuring seven Matadors, including one on horseback, who will each fight just one bull.

What a day in Valencia!!!

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