Sunday, March 1st, I found myself en route to an event that I'd never envisioned myself attending. It was to fill a cultural gap and also to benefit an animal refuge. The event was scheduled to start at 5 pm, which was great as the light was so good for picture-taking at that time.
Precisely at five, I arrived at the Unidad Deportiva of Tlalixtac de Cabrera, a pleasant small town quite close to the city of Oaxaca. The sports center is very appealing in its position below the level of the street & with a great view of the mountains ~
Gosh, I hope I can find a seat!
Preparations are still underway ~
Pint-sized aspiring deportistas try out the ring ~
The seats are slowly filling. I'm fretting because we're going to lose all the lovely afternoon light. The seats on either side of me (I'm square in the middle of the folding chairs facing east) are some of the first occupied. I soon realize my seatmates are all Americans, who've also arrived more or less on time. When will we learn?
I can't imagine it was comfortable for these people to be facing west, but I just had to snap their disembodied heads gilded by the setting sun ~
Yes, yes ~ I'll be showing wrestling, and a great deal of it, so all you sports lovers please tune in again tomorrow.
The only thing I ever knew about lucha libre was from the movie Nacho Libre, which I ostensibly watched -- the first time -- because it was filmed in Oaxaca. I've subsequently watched it because of its most amusing entertainment value. The movie is the source of the stirring line used as the subject heading for this thread ~
Now that is unexpected, Kerouac! I googled it & saw that there is audience participation there. We await photos of your masked, stretchy pants clad incarnation.
Htmb, I really feel this sport could fill that empty space in your heart formed by the end of football season.
Okay. Moving right along ~
Each contestant gets a pat-down when he enters the ring. The referee checked the tips of their shoes, as well.
First engagement ~
The clown isn't just any clown -- he is a luchador ~
There is a great deal of by-play and banter, much of it hilariously obscene. Naturally, the crowd is laughing. That provokes a threat from this gladiator, who informs us that this is serious business and "If you all don't shut up, I'm leaving!" Incidentally, at one point this contestant was hurled from the ring, landing in my lap & throwing me into the laps of the two young women seated behind me, provoking even more hilarity.
Now, at this point you might be thinking that this is serious business. Take a look at the video, please, to see what it was really like ~
I have to admit that I don't have any photos or video of the most wonderful part. That's because I was laughing so hard tears were rolling down my cheeks. It was an amazing slapstick free-for-all which involved all of the the contestants and the referee chasing each other around the ring, bouncing off the ropes, nimbly leaping over each other, etc.
The by-play involves such things as a contestant -- usually a rudo -- randomly walking up and slapping the referee. I suspect that there are code words embedded in the obscene insults between contestants, as often one would say something & immediately after there would be a play or hold that really required mutual cooperation.
When not engaged in combat, the contestants tended to let their masks slip, as it were ~
Oh gawd, Kerouac -- that is priceless! Although I was hoping the whole story would not get out.
Mossie, besides the lurid happenings unmasked by Kerouac, I did have that guy come sailing into my lap, plus my whole section had to get out of the way when two of the wrestlers had a fist fight right where we were sitting. Thanks for the compliments. There will be more of this!
Htmb, thank you. I know I'll never become an aficionada, but I'm glad to have had the experience and I did get lots of laughs out of it.
Hey, thanks Fumobici! Re: "real" -- it was quite obvious that much of what went on was fake. In the video you can see that there was no contact when the painted guy got punched and that he wasn't really thrown out of the ring by the blow. My favorite whoops moment during the match was when one guy supposedly received a hard uppercut to the jaw, but reacted by grabbing his privates. Still, much of what goes on deserves respect for the amazing physicality of it. I felt the ring floor & it wasn't all that padded. When those guys whomp down on it, it's amazing the breath isn't knocked right out of them. And the amount of leaping & running is downright miraculous, especially considering the amount of padding some of them are carrying around the midriff. They're really great performers, too, rolling with the punches as it were, & coming up with appropriate reactions and amusing comebacks.
After all that excitement, it was time for an intermission. There were snacks & things for sale, notably wrestling masks but also some handmade bags the sale of which was to benefit the animal refuge.
Guess which items were the most popular ~
The seats were pretty well filled up by intermission time, and more people kept filtering in.
Those of you on facebook can look at the pictures in the links below. They're from Promociones Galán, the wrestlers' group. The first link shows the guys at the refuge with the animals and the second link is of the event, if my pictures don't satisfy you sufficiently. luchadores & furry friends and the not-by-bixa pictures This is where I have to admit I didn't stay for the whole thing, so the fb pics have some dangerous characters not captured by me.
But I do have more to show, so please check back, shiny headgear optional.
I LOVE this thread. I loved it even before the warriors entered the ring and before Kerouac's thrilling docudrama. (Also had no idea what "Nacho Libre" referred to. Will have to watch that now.) The airborne ref! The crowds!
Now, now, Kerouac -- we don't know that! Anyway, don't discount the usefulness of those masks to an online community manager. There's one for every mood, even one to channel your Darth Vader dark side.
Lola -- thank you! You have to know that I thought of you during this event when I realized its appeal to those rarefied souls capable of appreciate Stooge-like artistry.
LaGatta, I don't know too much about that refuge, since I only recently learned of it. Make yourself a facebook account (it can be anonymous) so you can see the pictures. The place has sort of a wild west air. My facebook page is a dangerous place because of my involvement in dog rescuing, etc. It means that big-eyed pups & kitties with tragic histories are often posted on it. Thus it was that I recently wound up with another girl doggy rescued by a woman involved in SOS Patitas Callejeras Oaxaca Asociación Civil Sin fin de lucro & how I found out about the wrestling event.
A new crew takes the stage ~
Go full screen & put the volume all the way up to get more of the flavor of being there ~
Htmb, if you had told me how much I would enjoy that show & how much I would laugh, I would have sniffed & rolled my eyes. You can see in the pics & see & hear in the videos the rollicking laughter of the audience. I was right there with them, helpless with laughter.
Agreed, Mossie! It seems to me that there would be careers as stunt men for these wrestlers. Instead of having to put a lithe stunt man in a fat suit, you could use a naturally portly guy. And some of them, such as the young man in the rock & roll makeup, are pretty androgynous, making them good stand-in stuntmen for actresses.
Ha ha, Lola -- that's exactly what the costumes remind me of: those hideous "designer" purses.
Since both you & Htmb are showing more than a glimmer of interest in the outfits, you might want to check out this site. There are also sites which will make your designs for you.
Coincidentally, a few months ago I found myself raptly reading this article, despite any previous interest in wrestling. You can see Cassandro in the video below. If you want to know more about the exotic aspect of lucha libre and some behind-the-scenes glimpses of the people & families involved, go here.
Show wrestlers always tend to be totally sweet and gentle people when you read interviews or articles about them. I guess that's why they are such bad actors and the performances are so ridiculous. But I'm really glad that it all looks fake -- it would be rather upsetting if the popularity was based on the idea that people were really getting hurt.
Thank you very much, Lugg! Nope, no lady wrestlers at the event I attended. Maybe next time ...
As far as the little dog with the wheeled contraption: he was at the ticket gate when I arrived, then was brought out after the Michael Jackson performance & paraded around the ring as announcements were made of the good the the refuge does & its need for donations. I imagine the little dog hated it, but it certainly made an impression. I have seen youtube videos of dogs who can't use their back legs using these "walkers" with great success. Apparently this little guy was injured & is still recovering, but one day might be able to walk normally Here is a bad photo I took of him ~
Kerouac, if you read the (very long) article I linked in the post just above Lugg's, you will probably be appalled at the description of lucha extrema, which involves such delights as broken glass, so there is an audience for such things. I was worried about having to see real violence, but the cabby who took me to Tlalixtac assured me the type of performance I was going to see would be pretty tame.
This is self-serving, but I found a few more pictures when I went to look for the doggy-in-the-walker photo ~
The contestant on the right probably has a built-in fan base in Oaxaca. He is "Chapulin", which means grasshopper, which is a symbol of Oaxaca.
This was a maneuver used repeatedly: one partner would hold the opponent so the other could really savage him ~
And this cracks me up: I can't look at it without thinking of the Three Stooges routine -- "Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned ... step by step ... inch by inch ..."
Oh wow Bixa! Just found your wonderfultremendous spectacular photos! I am not unfamiliar with wrestling of this kind, my husband being a fan and watching on TV. Nobody can beat the Mexicans at dressing up for a rumble on the mat!
You have done an outstanding job and I can't wait to show the old man.
This was so much fun Bixa! Your photos capture how seriously they take this and how proud they are of there performances. We do not see these kind of events here any longer but there was a time when they were quite popular. It also brought me some very happy memories of my grandfather, he loved wrestling and I remember him sitting at the edge of his chair, fists pumping and yelling at the television on Saturday afternoons when we visited him when I was a child.