The Seduction of the Minotaur

You may not believe me, but I have been trying to get into the Colisseu Balear, the Plaça de toros (Palma bullring), for at least five or six years, to no avail.

When there is no activity, the place is always closed. And when there is a bullfight, or a concert, or whatever, access is strictly limited to those with a valid admission. But I did not want to take photos of a concert, or a TV show or a bullfight. I was and still am interested in the place, the characteristics of the place, the aura, the architecture, the history, the true nature of the Macarena.

Well, yesterday I happened to drive past the Colisseu Balear and, lo and behold, the gates were open. I parked the car and sneaked in, expecting to be thrown out again by some busybody guards within no time at all. But no. I was unhindered and undisturbed and could spend some twenty minutes minding my own business and clicking away until my camera memory disk was completely full.

I am not much into bullfights. I have only ever seen one proper one in my life, one half proper one with young bulls, without any bloodshed, and a couple of corridas and bullruns in the south of France, with the bulls being chased towards the bull ring. But I can’t help associating the bullfight and the Plaça de toros with artists like Picasso or writers like Hemingway. Entering a bullring, even an empty one, confronts one with an air of temerity and a sense of carnage; there is blood in the air, want it or not, quite possibly in a seductive sort of way. The last bullfights were fought here, or should I say, staged, some two weeks ago (August 9th). Since then there had been a concert, and tomorrow (August 24th), a bull jumping show will be put on, an acrobatic kind of bullfight with no blood and with no loss of bulls’ lives.

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 22nd, 2012. The time was 15:33:31 and 15:28:16, respectively.

The Seduction of the Minotaur

The Slow Decline and Fall of Bullfighting in Mallorca

There was a bullfight event in Palma’s Coliseo Balear the other night (Thursday) with three Toreros. The event will have been the only corrida this year in the island capital. There won’t be a bullfight in Felanitx this year either, for the third consecutive year, and Inca has also cancelled its annual bullfight. The anti-taurine movement may slowly get the upper hand in Mallorca after all. There were close to one hundred animal rights protesters outside Palma’s bullring on Thursday night making their voices heard, whistling and shouting insults at the pro-bullfight spectators. The bulls, it seemed, were not perturbed, even though in the end not a single bull survived the spectacle.

One bullfight was staged in Alcúdia earlier this year, and another one in Muro. That was it, as far as I know; three bullfighting corridas in a whole year when in the past there may have been ten or twelve. Times they are a-changing.

The photos (top and centre) were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Manu Mielniezuk. The photo (bottom) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 26th, 2012. The time was 19:36:48.

Muchas gracias.

The Slow Decline and Fall of Bullfighting in Mallorca

The Taming of Young Bulls

The Plaça de Toros d’Alcúdia is more often a venue for concerts by Lou Reed or Anegats, or other public renditions, than an arena for bullfights. Twice a year, however, six young bulls are brought to the Colosseu in Alcúdia for a bloody showdown. One such Corrida (bullfight) happened a week ago, last Sunday, on the occasion of the Festes de Sant Jaume. The Alcúdia bullring is situated in what used to be part of the Mediaeval fortifications, the so-called Bastió de Sant Ferran.

Bullfights in Mallorca seem to be on their way out. Not so long ago, there used to be half a dozen occasions when corridas were held at the Plaza de Toros in Palma but, now it’s down to one day a year or two. The same is true in Muro and the same, again in Inca. Felanitx for the last fifty years only ever had one day of bullfights per year, but this year will be the third year running without a Corrida or Novillada due to the deplorable state of the arena site and the implied repercussions for the safety of the spectators. A Novillada is a bullfight with youngish bulls, those younger than three years of age, as often used to be the case here in Mallorca.

There were a few dozen protesters outside of the bullring in Alcúdia last week trying to picket the spectators away from the cruel fight. I venture to say that there won’t be more than two days of bullfights per year in all of Mallorca, within the next ten years and, perhaps none whatsoever shortly after that. Bullfights are banned in Catalunya from 2012 already. Soon, you will have to go to Andalucía, Pamplona or Madrid to watch a decent Novillada, or even Mexico or Chile soon after that.

The next bullfight event in Alcúdia will be held in two weeks time on August 15th at the occasion of the Festes de La Mare de Déu d’Agost. If toros take your fancy, book your seats soon, Sol or Sombra.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Miguel Garau.

Muchas gracias.

The Taming of Young Bulls

The Rainbow Toro Show

The advertising hoardings of black toros (bulls) have added to the Spanish landscape since the Nineteen-fifties, when bulls first appeared in large, cut-out silhouettes promoting the famous Spanish Brandy, Veterano. Then, the Osborne spirits company erected large images of bulls in black with the maker’s name, as advertising boards on sites near to major roads throughout Spain. The bull is, by some, regarded as a semi-official national symbol of Spain. The Osborne bull can been seen looming on hillsides all over Spain. When Spain outlawed billboards on national roads in the early 1990′s, the bulls had to be taken down. Many Spaniards protested, as they had become endeared to them. The original bull was smaller and of a slightly different design. It got bigger as publicity was prohibited within 150 meters of a main road. The bulls now have a height of 14 m. There are said to be around 70 of these giants placed throughout the country. You might have seen one yourself, perhaps the only one in Mallorca, between Algaida and Montuïri.

In Mallorca, as in Catalunya, the Osborne bull is not as welcome as in other parts of Spain. The Mallorcan cut-out toro often suffers from protesting graffiti (see my earlier blog entry). A couple of days ago, the billboard was defaced again but, this time in a cheerful manner. Now the black bull appears in the colours of the rainbow (see photo). Even though this colour spectrum is usually attributed to the Gay Pride movement, it is widely speculated that the latest toro misdeed was in fact carried out by the Spanish anti-bullfight movement who are known to have converged in Mallorca during the last few days.

Whatever you might think about bullfights, Osborne bulls, anti-bullfight protesters or the gay scene, the rainbow coloured toro between Algaida and Montuïri adds a bit of colour to the landscape. One has to applaud the creative impetus of the culprits.

The photo was taken near Algaida, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 10th, 2011. The time was 11:21:01.

The Rainbow Toro Show

The Final Bullfight?

Yesterday, the autonomous Parlament de Catalunya in Barcelona approved with 68 against 55 votes (and 9 abstentions) a move to disallow bullfights. The new law will come into effect from 2012 and will only be valid in Cataluña. After the Canary Islands, Cataluña is now the second province in Spain that has declared an end to corridas, bullfights and novilladas. The hearts of Spanish bullfights and bull runs (Madrid, Andalucía and Pamplona) will not be affected by the new legislation.

In my opinion, the new ruling is not really only a vote taken in favour of the toros in question, protecting animals rights. Catalunya has never really been the greatest of fans of tauromania and its related emotions. In Cataluña, it is felt that bullfights are really a passion of centrist Spain and were imposed by Madrid on a culture that sees itself rather represented by the donkey, and not the bull. The ruling has to be seen in the light of the Catalonian constitution that only a week ago was partially rebuffed by the Supreme Court in Madrid. The Barcelona ruling might have been a message to the Spanish nation that Cataluña wants to do things their own way and not always follow the lead from Madrid, sometimes even in an independent spirit.

In the long run, the Catalonian ruling may have repercussions here in the Baleares as well. I would guess, however, that here such a ruling might still be a few years away but, it will come sooner or later.

The Mallorcan town of Inca will stage a bullfight next Sunday, August 1st, at 18h30. Toreros will be Juan Serrano ‘El Finito de Córdoba‘, Manuel Díaz ‘El Cordobés‘ and Miguel Abellán. The occasion is the Fiestas de San Abdon y San Senén. The date will be the centennial anniversary of the inauguration of the Plaza de Toros de Inca (see photo below). Tickets are on sale from 30 € to 45 € (sol) and from 40 € to 95 € (sombra). I expect that there will be some anti-bullfight demonstrations, as well.

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 20th, 2010. The time was 10:29:07. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet. Thanks are due to diariodemallorca.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Final Bullfight?

The Corrida In Muro

The pueblo of Muro (Mallorca) is in the middle of celebrating its Festa de Sant Joan. Or rather, has been celebrating. Yesterday was the last day of this year’s activities. Last Sunday, a bullfight was supposed to be held, with six bulls and three toreros (Manuel Diaz ‘El Cordobés‘, Miguel Abellán and Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez). The corrida had to be cancelled, though, due to some unseemingly heavy rain. The spectacle has been re-scheduled for tomorrow, June 27th, at 18h30. Tickets sold for last Sunday’s bullfight will be valid tomorrow night. ‘El Cordobés’ and Miguel Abellán will be there, whereas Cayetano Rivera had previous commitments in Algeciras and will be replaced by a female bullfighter, Noelia Mota. Tickets are 35 € (sol) and 45 € (sombra).

Last Sunday, an anti-bullfight demonstration was held outside the Plaza de Toros in Muro, with some 200 protesters airing their opposition to bullfights in Spain. I expect there will be another manifestación, as it is called here in Mallorca, tomorrow afternoon. If the weather holds, you could either watch the bullfights in Muro, or join the protesters outside.

The photo (top) was taken in Muro, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 25th, 2010. The time was 15:26:32. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es.

Muchas gracias.

The Corrida In Muro

The Coso de Felanitx

cosos

The Festes de Sant Agustí in Felanitx are in full swing. In fact, today is the main day, the saint’s day.

People not living in Felanitx might think that the main purpose of the Felanitx festivities are the novillas (bullfights) in the Felanitx Macarena (bullring). But, far from it.

Sant Agustí is the day of the penyas in Felanitx. The original Felanitx penya is the Penya El Coso de Felanitx, going back to the Eighties of last century. I understand that this penya was originally founded as an outlet to criticise or otherwise disapprove of the authorities such as politicians and the local administration. El Coso was also set up to celebrate the art of bullfighting.

The symbol of El Coso is Sa Quica, traditionally a live domestic cock, but in recent years the cock was replaced by a plastic replica, tied to a long pole.

In 2009, the traditional bullfights were not authorised. Instead, a live rooster was used again, in defiance of the by-law, albeit a somewhat bewildered, if timid cock. Sa Quica was held in a small cage placed on a velvet cushion and handled with great care. Let’s see what else El Coso have up their sleeves today to make up for the bulls that aren’t.

sa_quica

Other penyas have sprung up in Felanitx, too, over the years. Things have changed; not everybody is in favour of the bullfights any more and not every penya wants to criticise the authorities. Some penyas just want to have some fun and be out all day partying on their day off.

Without any doubt, the biggest penya by far is still the one of the Es Coso, even today. The autoridades are still there, here in Felanitx, in Mallorca and in Madrid, politicians that need to be reminded of the citizens’ considerations and welfare. And Felanitx still feels Mallorquín first, and Spanish only much later.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 28th, 2007. The time was 08:41:34. The photo (bottom) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 28th, 2009. The time was 07:59:23.

The Coso de Felanitx