Today I went to a bullfight. It was never high on my list of things to do, and there's plenty to object about them, but I'd been invited by a colleague and was curious.
Bullfighting pre-dates Graeco-Roman times, but around 300 years ago the Spaniards turned it into what it is today, and subsequently exported it to Mexico and a few other Latin American countries.
We went to the Plaza de Mexico which, with a capacity of 41,000 is the biggest bullfighting arena in the world (bigger than any in Spain). Today's almost full house seemed to be mostly middle-aged and male, though there were quite a lot of women too. There are even female matadors.
There are six bullfights (corridas) with each of the three star matadors fighting twice. But before they come on, there's a whole other process involving regular matadors, banderillas and picadors (a guy on a padded horse) whose job it is to weaken the bull.
Today there were two star matadors from Mexico and one from Spain. The latter, Julian Lopez Escobar, was a real show-off: stylish, arrogant and hardily moving at all, which is what all matadors aspire to. Just to stand there and let the bull move around you. At one point he did it on his knees. People threw their hats into the ring and waved white handkerchiefs (an odd gesture: in another culture it indicates cowardice). If he puts on a bad show, though, people jeer and throw their seat cushions instead.
And of course, the bulls get killed. And no, it's not nice to watch. But I'm not going to pass judgement. I've been the once, it was culturally interesting, and that's it.