Saturday, 15 March 2014

Lucha Libre!

So last night my friend and I went to see the Lucha Libre for the first time. She, although being Mexican and living in Mexico her whole life, had never been, and was therefore up for the adventure when I mentioned it. Lucha Libre literally means ‘free fight’, and it is defined as: ‘a form of professional wrestling that has developed within Mexico and other Latin American countries. Although the term nowadays refers exclusively to professional wrestling, it was originally used in the same style as the English term "freestyle wrestling", referring to an amateur wrestling style without the restrictions of Greco-Roman wrestling. Mexican wrestling is characterized by colourful masks, rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers, as well as "high-flying" maneuvers, some of which have been adopted in the United States. The wearing of masks has developed special significance, and matches are sometimes contested in which the loser must permanently remove his mask, which is a wager with a high degree of weight attached. Tag team wrestling is especially prevalent in lucha libre, particularly matches with three-member teams, called trios. Lucha libre wrestlers are known as luchadores (singular luchador) ("wrestler(s)"). They usually come from extended wrestling families who form their own stables.’ (Wikipedia)

Lucha libre is one of the most culturally significant events in Mexico. Everyone knows what it is, almost everyone goes, and the fighters themselves are famous for the characters they bring to life in the ring. I was surprised that not all of them wear masks, and I’m not sure if it is because of past failures (see above) or if this is a different type of fighter. When we arrived at the arena, there were already adults milling around wearing the mask of their favourite fighter, and little boys were running all over the place, also masked, unable to contain their excitement. I tried not to get too wrapped up in the cultural conditioning of promoting fighting in little kids, or the fact that the Lucha Libre is a prime example of Mexican ‘machismo’. Time for the anthropologist part of my brain to rest.
ready for the fights!
Me and the ring
We bought some snacks, headed to our seats, got some beers, and settled in to wait. In typical Mexican fashion, most people didn’t arrive until after the first match ended. The seats filled and the crowd got louder. Each fight starts with a bevy of bikini-clad ladies dancing along the aisle as the luchadores are announced. They come out one by one and enter the ring, waving to fans and trying to look menacing at each other. Almost all the fights we saw were teams-three or four men on each side. The fights are hilarious-some parts so staged it’s comical to watch, but the effect of the crowds and beer is intoxicating, and eventually we found ourselves yelling along with everyone else, cringing for particularly strong looking hits, and cheering for one person or another. There was even a fight of all female luchadoras! These girls looked straight out of a roller derby rink, and they weren’t messing around. There were 8 different fights in all, and the costumes were different for each one. Some wore speedos, some wore pants, some wore leotards. There were masks of every colour, and even some mascots in the form of two little people, one dressed as an eagle and another dressed as Yoda. Yes, Yoda.
Dancing 'cheerleaders'? 
The teams prepare to fight
Sweet move there man! 
Screen for close-up action footage
Down for the count
Luchador getting checked for weapons while Yoda and the other little person watch on
Throughout the evening, people walk through the aisles selling drinks, food, and souvenirs. It was definitely an event, and after three and a half hours, we left it giggling, tipsy, and glad we had come to experience this piece of Mexican culture. Then we went for tacos, which is the proper thing to do at the end of an evening in Mexico City. Night complete. I definitely enjoyed it, and can understand why it is such an attraction, although I doubt I’ll become a die hard fan. But if I was to have any more visitors here, I would definitely suggest we go to experience a real slice of Mexican life.

A bit sad I didn't buy a stuffed luchador for my bed! 

Kim x

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