April 28, 2006

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

‘El Juli’ Heads Card in 2006 Season TJ Opener

Can you smell the tacos, frying? Can you hear the beer bottles, tinkling together, creating their own special symphony from within the buckets, carried by the salesmen? Can you smell the fresh ocean breezes? Can you feel the anticipation, the wonder, the speculation and aspirations about the upcoming Tijuana and Mexicali bullfight seasons?

Well, the first step toward responding to those questions will take place, this coming Sunday, in Pepe López Hurtado’s “Beautiful Bullring by the Sea”, in Tijuana, when the opening corrida de toros of the 2006 summer season will great an anticipated sell-out crowd of aficionados and other spectators.

Heading the card will be none other than one of the world’s number one attractions, Julián López “El Juli”, who will, reportedly, earn somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 for his afternoon’s work on the sand. He may be the highest paid athlete in the world. Every one of his Tijuana appearances has resulted in an almost “No Hay Billetes” afternoon. Aficionados are willing to endure practically any costs to watch the young Madrileño perform.

Alternating with him, in facing a herd of bulls from Medina Ibarra, will be two Tijuana-born matadores, César Castañeda and current star Alejandro Amaya, both of whom will be anxious to outdo the celebrated matador from Spain.

A variety of bullfights will be held, this summer, in the big Plaza Monumental and the downtown “El Toreo” plaza de toros. There is also the possibility of a three-day, three-bullfight affair that is in the planning stages for later, this summer.

Officially, or as far as the word, “officially” is viable when it comes to the staging of events in Mexico, the following dates have been set for the Tijuana season: May 28, July 1 (or maybe July 2), Aug. 13, Sept. 3 and 17, and Oct. 1, 15, and 29, all beginning at 4 o’clock.

As always, Tijuana Correspondent Gary Sloan will be reviewing the Tijuana taurine functions.

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And, Bullfight World has added a new correspondent, Mark Mecalis, who will review the action in Mexicali’s “Plaza Calafia,” which is only about a 90-minute drive from San Diego. Mark is an experienced bullfight photographer and also has a taurine Internet web site.

The Mexicali season will open May 5, at 3 p.m., with Mexican ace Jorge Gutierrez alternating with Alejandro Mayer and José Maurício. The ranch from which the bulls will be presented had not yet been announced, at press time.

Then, on May 14, also at 3 p.m., Plaza Calafia will be the scene of a festival of aficionados prácticos (amateur toreros) —Miguel Angel Barajas, Heriberto Quebedo, and Mario Montier—who will entertain the crowd.

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In the meantime, the National Association of Taurine Clubs (USA) is preparing to hold its annual convention, during the Feria de San Marcos, in the very colonial City of Aguascalientes. Aficionados from bullfight clubs located across the United States will be converging on Aguascalientes, to absorb the taurine afición and general ambiente of one of the most popular ferias in Mexico.

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According to all published reports, the bloodless bullfight, held last Sunday, in El Paso, Texas, had little to recommend it. Only about 650 spectators showed up for an event that was promoted by amateurs who apparently had only a general idea of how bloodless bullfights should be presented.

This is all in the wake of the destruction of Plaza Monumental de Juárez, which is making way for a shopping center. This leaves only two plazas de toros in Juárez, the beautiful, old Plaza Balderas (which is in desperate need of refurbishment) and the Lienzo Charro, whose arena floor is great for charreadas, but leaves a great deal to be desired when it comes to bullfights.

The aficionados in Juárez are desperately looking for an outlet to feed their afición, but the bloodless presentation in El Paso didn’t even come close to providing it.

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