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Monday, 2 August 2010

Lucha Libre

One of the few things that I knew I wanted to see whilst I was in Mexico was Lucha Libre. This is Mexico's answer to WWE wrestling and is a very popular sport amongst the Mexican people. Lucha (Wrestling) Libre (free) was a regional phenomenon in Mexico un till Salvador Lutteroth founded the Mexican Wrestling Enterprise in 1933 which gave the sport a foothold on an national scale for the first time. The wearing of Masks and tight crotch hugging lycra shorts was popularised by Luchador El Santo (the Saint) in 1942 who kept his identity disguised throughout his career, a move which proved popular with the fans, contemporary and future wrestlers and presumably his mother. El Santo's career spanned an impressive 5 decades and he become a folk hero of the people of Mexico. Here endeth the lesson.

One of Lau's various contacts in Mexico city (a blood relation, in fact most of Lau contacts in Mexico in general are related to her) managed to get us some free tickets so we had front row seats to the show. One of the differences between Lucha and US wrestlers is the agility and speed. The Luchadors would perform acrobatic manoeuvres off the ropes, on the ropes, through the ropes and, if things went wrong, in the ropes. Not all the men or women (the latter having about as much sex appeal as a road accident) were graced with fine athletic physiques however. Indeed the fighters who were on early looked as though when they got up in the mornings, looked at their bodies in the mirror, and after honest self assessment decided that what they should develop first was a sense of humour.

With some of the confrontations a sense of humour was required from the audience as well. They loved to pitch short stubby men against giants who puff out their chests and absorb blows without taking a backward step or without even trying to block the punches (backhands to the chest). The look of shock on the stubby one's face when his backhand to the chest of the giant across from him caused the giant no harm whatsoever brought a smile to you face. It was even more funny when the ladies where in the ring as a backhand to the chest became a boob slap!!

They were all masters of playing to the crowd and getting the audience involved. As you got into the evenings entertainment you couldn't help be enthralled by what you were seeing. Its not that it looks real, in fact I don't think it is supposed to look real. You are asked to imagine how much it looks like it must hurt even if it doesn't really. It is rather like going to the theatre. If you watch movies of stage shows then they are very often mediocre at best. But if you go and see one live in the theatre then they are inthralling. Lucha Libre is exactly the same. It may not look like much to television but get up close and personal the the actors on the stage and you are glued to their every move.

In the theatre however you don't a chance to scream the worst profanities possible at the player on the stage. Lucha Libre encourages this kind of behaviour which makes it all the more fun. Some of the words being shouted in spanish were so vile they didn't even carry an english translation. Imagine a word so bad you can't translate it!!! So Prichilla and I could only imagine what they Mexican audience (including Lau and Pao by the end) were shouting at the corrupt referee who had awarded the last bout to the villains of the piece and in doing so stole victory away from the rightful winner El Mistico (This one shouldn't need a translation).

We all agreed that it was tremendous fun and anyone travelling through Mexico simply has to go and see the Luchadors in action. Don't let what you see on TV or in a Jack Black movie form the basis of your opinion. Go and see it for yourself with an open mind and you will have an amazing time!!!

more to follow,


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