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The Aficionado’s Holiday Wish List

Author: Mark Schwarz
Created: 02 January, 2015
Updated: 13 September, 2023
4 min read

bulfightSanta probably doesn’t grant wishes for taurinos—besieged enough himself by questionable animal rights practices—but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any. 2014 will go down as one of the most trying years in recent history; although absolute numbers of corridas may have remained stable (even slightly increasing in Mexico), the costs of (often internecine) conflicts within the spectacle and the organized attacks against it, have certainly been as notable as almost anything that happened on the sand.

2015 would almost have to be better, but just in case, here—in no particular order—is one aficionado’s wish list for this year:

1. …That the “sector” as it is termed in Spain and Mexico, will form some sort of united front, a National Tauromaquia League, if you will, to deal with internal conflicts such as more equal revenue sharing among the contributing parties (especially the ganaderos, who, for years, have borne the brunt of rising expectations, prices, hostilities and the natural depredations of ranching without receiving anywhere near fair compensation for their labor intensive work); the promotion and defense of the spectacle to the general public and especially the younger generations of potential devotees; a parallel promotion of an unusually promising group of new novilleros upon whose fragile shoulders the very survival of the spectacle rests, and external problems such as the ridiculous differentiated Spanish “spectacle tax” that all but precludes precisely the numbers of novilladas that the newcomers need; legal protections from the organized protests of well-funded anti-taurine sources and groups and/or rogue mayors and local governments who have taken it upon themselves to “save” the populace from the taurine barbarians, and some sort of lasting legal and financial protections (or support?…) to stabilize the base of the spectacle.

2. That the Pages management group that runs Sevilla’s beautiful and historic Maestranza ring, will come to the understanding that without toros and toreros, they would have nothing but a beautiful—and useless—architectural monument to late Spanish baroque construction…

3. The continued inclusion of Mexican toreros in Spanish cartels and ferias, and, maybe, MAYBE, their inclusion—on occasion—in a cartel of importance and buzz…

4. The immediate and irreversible destitution of Rafael Herrerias from any position at all in the promotion (???) or production (???) of the corrida—forever. Herrerias, the chief promoter of Mexico City’s Plaza Mexico, is a candidate for the worst taurine promoter in history. His lackadaisical—and possibly illegal—management of the fortunes of the world’s largest plaza de toros has resulted in a wholesale free-fall in attendance and the education of new generations of aficionados in the capital, the only plaza in Mexico to maintain a year-round season. The routine presentation of underage, embarrassingly under-defensed animals has led to the equally routine panorama of tens of thousands of unoccupied seats in a city with a population of nearly 20,000,000…a mind boggling mismanagement of a tradition that has deep roots in Mexico and Mexican culture.

5. The continued focus on maintaining the distinct bloodlines of “toro bravo” in Spain—and Mexico, for that matter—avoiding at all costs the hegemony of the Domeq line; not because Domeq is bad, but because diversity in the ring, just as elsewhere, benefits everyone.

6. That Joselito Adame, the Americas’ most legitimate aspirant to the status of international figura will return to the big ferias of Valencia, Sevilla, and Madrid in 2015, and in each and every one draw at least one bull that allows the definitive triumph he so richly deserves to solidify his unstinting efforts (in one eight day stretch in September, he travelled some 13,000 miles between Spain and Mexico to complete a total of 5 corridas) and bring the taurine spotlight back to Mexico.

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7. On a local note, that the Casa Toreros management group that handles La Monunmental de las Playas in Tijuana, begins the season early enough to allow for more than the rather stingy, and abruptly ended, five corrida season of 2014. Solid planning, advance notice and savvy use of social media have allowed Casa Toreros to make Tijuana a serious taurine entity once again. Corridas featuring newcomers such as Ricardo Frausto and Ernesto Tapia, “Calita”, alongside established figuras like Adame and “El Payo” have returned the aficion to the seats in growing numbers, and a certain air of seriousness to the plaza that appeared headed for destruction.

8. Finally, a plea to the great unknown of el mundillo taurino, Jose Tomas, whose yearly appearances have lately numbered in digits less than 5, to commit to a minimum of one corrida in each of the major Spanish and Mexican ferias in 2015, thereby conferring his magnetic attraction on the rest of the corridas, turning everyone into winners. The master’s reclusive personality, deeply held convictions on the importance of live performance and iconoclastic opposition to the “empresariat” are celebrated, but they’re in danger of reducing the greatest torero of the last 50 years to a parody…precisely when the fiesta most needs his commanding presence and mysticism to maintain the flame of toreo in the 21st century.

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