Getting the flavor of...Spanish bullfighting’s last gasps

A regional ban on bullfighting will end Catalonia's centuries-long tradition.

Spanish bullfighting’s last gasps

Love the spectacle or hate it, you’ll need a history book to see a bullfight in Catalonia if you don’t get to one this summer, said Catherine Nixey in the Financial Times. That thought makes me wistful as I sit in Barcelona’s stadium watching satin-clad matadors saunter to ring center. A regional ban on the sport will end this centuries-long tradition soon. Suddenly, the crowd around me falls silent as a matador’s blade, catching the afternoon sun, glitters above his head. But it’s a sparse audience, a far cry from those of the sport’s early-20th-century heyday, when sword-wielding heroes were “celebrated like gods and paid like footballers.” The first bull goes down, and I grow squeamish. Soon enough, though, I’m parsing the deadly dance maneuvers like a seasoned press-box analyst. When “the final bull sinks to the floor, the band play their final fanfare” and fans carry the matador away in triumph. My hope is that they encounter no protesters outside on the street.

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