Know Your Bull-Slaughtering: Vocab

Las Fallas are coming up, and with it a full season of events at the Plaza de Toros. Here are a few words of vocabulary, which will help you chat up bloodthirsty amigos. We’ll start easy:

1. Matador – the principal bullfighter
This is the main dude — the one who ultimately kills the bull with a sword, or estoque. Matadors are brash, confident and (usually) extremely macho — traits which apparently help bed Madonna.

2. Novillero – The Matador’s Apprentice
During Las Fallas, there will be three days of novilladas, during which novilleros will fight novillos (young bulls). Got that?

3. Picador – Horseman who jabs the bull with lance
These little jerks are just mean. They taunt and bruise up the bull before the matador comes and finishes the job. The coolest thing about the picadors is their horses — blindfolded so that they don’t panic when they see the charging bull.

4. Recortero – Bull Jumper
For those (simpering, lily-livered) aficionados who’d rather not see blood spilled, there are 3 days of bull jumping during Las Fallas. Recorteros dress in street clothes and perform death-defying acrobatic stunts with the bull. The animal isn’t hurt during the performance and is returned to the pin afterwards (to peacefully await eventual slaughter and consumption).

It’s thrilling, no doubt. But to be honest, if I were in a bullring, I’d rather have a sword and a band of spear-wielding picadors behind me. As a spectator, if a matador gets gored, you’re left with the calming sense that cosmic justice was probably served. If one of these bull-jumpers gets it, it’s like… “Dude, oh man, how stupid”.

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