The abandonment of Las Ventas and how there are chips that cannot be covered with plaster | Culture

Two of the images on the deterioration of Las Ventas, sent by fans to the president of the Community of Madrid.Assoc. The Bull of Madrid

At the beginning of last May, the Madrid El Toro Association sent a letter to the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, denouncing the state of neglect suffered by the building in Plaza de Las Ventas. It also appealed to the consideration of Protected Cultural Property, a category that the Ministry of Culture recognized for the square in 1994, and that of Property of Cultural Interest, approved by the regional Parliament, to request that the competent administration undertake the rehabilitation works , as essential as urgent.

The letter was accompanied by an extensive photographic report in which the many wrinkles of a building that is now 91 years old, and in which it seems evident that small budgets have been invested in its rehabilitation. You only have to take a walk around the interior of the building to verify that it smells old and that the walls have not seen new lime for many years.

The depressing conservation of the square is indecency, which depends on an administration that calls itself bullfighting and that receives a millionaire each season for the exploitation fee. It also contrasts with the impeccable image that La Maestranza in Seville presents each spring, in which the property, the private Institución Maestrante, annually invests a considerable amount of euros to make it look like what it is, a temple of bullfighting.

A massive cocktail bar, enlivened by a noisy musical group, has worked during San Isidro inside the Puerta Grande

Can anyone imagine that the Pagés company set up a nightclub in the interior surroundings of La Maestranza? Well, a crowded cocktail bar, enlivened every night by a noisy live musical group, has worked during the San Isidro Fair next to the Puerta Grande. Is there more foolishness in the most important bullring in the world?

“Madrid is the world capital of the bull”, said Díaz Ayuso recently in a public act; and he highlighted that the one in San Isidro “has been a great fair due to its economic impact in sectors such as hospitality, tourism, the area’s commercial sector or the transport network.” “It is estimated,” he added, “that the more than 500,000 spectators who have attended the Monumental de Las Ventas have brought some 70 million euros to the region, which shows, once again, that the world of the bull generates wealth, employment and notable benefits to the Madrid economy”.

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Benefits for all sectors except for the square itself. The president would do well not to brag about bullfighting so much and dedicate part of the money she receives to washing the face of a square that cries out for a set-up according to her category.

But these flaws are not the only ones that shine The Sales. In line with the letter from the fans to the president, a message on Twitter drew attention to others no less worrying in the Madrid square: “In Las Ventas, not only has the building deteriorated; there are chips that I’m afraid they won’t be able to fix with plaster”.

The arena, flooded with pads, the afternoon of Paco Ureña's arrest.
The arena, flooded with pads, the afternoon of Paco Ureña’s arrest.Alfredo Arevalo

The bullring in Madrid has always been considered the fundamental reference point for bullfighting, where a triumph or failure could determine the career of a bullfighter; The lines have been populated by a varied hobby, where the majority were demanding fans, many of them from outside the capital.

But that photograph belongs to the past. The economic crisis, the pandemic, the animalistic current, the permanent attacks by small and tireless anti-bullfighting groups, which, surprisingly, find an excessive gap in the media, the manifest detachment of the Government and the political parties, and the prevailing idea — and politically correct – that protesting away from the bullfighting festival is an unequivocal sign of modernity and progressive have configured a new hobby, festive, generous and not very rigorous.

Thus, there have been afternoons at the last fair in which the square has behaved like a third-class, triumphalism has spread in the stands, and trophies have been awarded or sets of the fight have been applauded that have made any fan blush medium hair. But like it or not, this is the bullfighting festival of the year 2022.

Because this galloping frivolity is not a problem of Las Ventas; Seville’s April Fair has been another reflection of the new society that sits on the hard stone of the squares. We must not forget, however, that this festive, noisy, triumphalist and ear-loving public is essential for the survival of the bullfighting festival.

The demanding Madrid fans belong to the past; the first place in the world has behaved many afternoons like a third

That public is the one that keeps the box office and the one that allows fans to witness some afternoons for which it is worth continuing to go to the bulls. A few years ago, Manuel Chaves, then president of the Junta de Andalucía, attended the bullfighting awards ceremony at La Maestranza, and said a truth that seems indisputable: “No one will dare to ban the bullfighting festival, which will only disappear the day the stands are empty”.

Because where are the fans? Despite the commitment of worthy fan associations spread throughout Spain, the fans have disappeared. Today, the public rules, which imposes its criteria without discussion and puts the presidents on the ropes, who must apply a regulation that does not represent the vast majority of those attending bullfights.

The remembered teacher Pepe Luis Vázquez said: “When the fans rule, the party wins, but when the public rules, bullfighting wins.” And what interests bullfighting —bullfighters, businessmen, ranchers— is a festive public that gives many ears and lacks the sense of demand.

In short, Las Ventas —the festival of the bulls, rather— has chips that cannot be covered with plaster. It is the sign of the new times, without a doubt…