Last night, we caught the American Rodeo in the Plaza de Toros on the first of its two nights in the city. Quite a spectacle — the show is two hours long and packed full of entertainment. In all, 7 rodeo disciplines are practiced. In between each, the crowd is treated to mini-events like lasso-spinning and rodeo clowns.
The first event was possibly the most spectacular — bareback bronco riding. Watching those cowboys get tossed around made my back hurt. A couple riders got tossed during the saddle-riding event, and it was all pretty exhilarating. I had expected the bull riding to be more intense, but although the bulls were bigger and certainly more frightening in aspect, they were less maniacally violent than the broncs.
An unexpected highlight was the barrel riding — the cowgirls’ only chance to shine. The only Spaniard in the rodeo is a Valencian barrel rider, and when she burst out of the gate and around her three barrels in lightning speed, the hometown crowd went crazy. Shame she didn’t win… but the purty lass from Kansas was faster.
We also enjoyed the calf roping, where a cowboy would first lasso, then tackle, then bind the legs of a calf. This event probably sent the Animal Cruelty protesters, who had gathered outside the arena prior to the rodeo, into apocalyptic rage. I thought it was kind of cool, and would later practice on my French Bulldog at home.
All of the events were great fun and the only disappointment was the entertainment between each. The rodeo clown’s jokes were woefully unfunny, and even more so for the crowd, who had to wait for the English-Spanish translation. At one point, he mocked the announcer with a swishy walk. Gay jokes might fly in the Southwestern US, buddy, but not in Europe, where most people don’t automatically associate homosexuality with weakness and negativity.
But that aside, the rodeo was great fun, and the crowd was eating it up… dancing, shouting “YEE-HAW”, and waving their cowboy hats into the air. It remains curious to me that Spain, with its equestrian culture, has waited so long to try out an American rodeo. The show repeats tonight (Sunday 27th) at 20:00h, and I would guess tickets are still available. Starting at €22, you certainly get your money’s worth of entertainment… and the cowboys and cowgirls aren’t bad eye candy, either.
After Valencia, the rodeo rolls into Benidorm, Marbella and Albacete. Check their website for more information.