The 2020 Madrid Autumn Fair will be different, and adapted to the circumstances determined by the pandemic. And one of the options that the company Plaza1 is considering is that celebrations are held during the weekends of the month of September until October 12.
This is the intention expressed by Simón Casas with all the reservations, because he insists that everything will depend on the decision taken by the Community of Madrid and the Center for Bullfighting Affairs, with which he and, especially, his partner, Rafael García Garrido, on behalf of the company, they maintain a fluid relationship that qualifies as “excellent”.
What seems clear is that the autumn cycle will not maintain the format of four bullfights and two bullfights over two weekends, as has been the case in recent years.
And something else: Las Ventas will not open its doors in summer, and the Madrid season will be subject to the criteria set by the owner of the arena.
"Las Ventas cannot open its doors in any way" (Simón Casas)
"My general theory is that a place in the category of Las Ventas cannot resume activity in any way, because the remedy would be worse than the wrong to be tackled," says the Madrid businessman.
"We are at the disposal of the Community of Madrid, but my personal opinion is that the decision taken must be for the good of bullfighting and the plaza itself," he adds.
Casas believes that a “quality” Autumn Fair is a good solution for Las Ventas, “whose prestige demands that it return to activity with first-rate programming”.
In this sense, Simón Casas affirms that "there may be several versions of the Autumn Fair, because the possibilities are many". "One of them, why not," he continues, "could consist of celebrating festivities every weekend in September and so on until the end of the season." And he adds: "Exceptional situations like the one we are experiencing require exceptional responses so that the solution adopted does not alter the prestige of Madrid."
At the moment, only one bullfighter, Miguel Ángel Perera, has been made available to the company. With the sender's permission, Simón Casas shows the telephone message that one of the bullfighter's agents sent him: “Dear Simón, I don't know if the Autumn Fair will take place. In any case, I inform you that Miguel Ángel Perera is at your disposal so that you need it ”.
The businessman is very clear, on the other hand, that the bullfighting summer will be a lost time in Madrid.
"It does not make any sense to announce heifers in summer because there are usually no more than tourists and a few fans, and this year we do not even have foreign visitors," explains the businessman. He insists that around 3,000 tickets are usually sold for this type of celebration "and half are bought by Asian tourists". "The image of an almost empty plaza would be counterproductive for the party and the plaza itself."
"I think so, that hazing should be scheduled in Las Ventas, but not in the summer, that even the fans do not go," says Simón Casas, although "it is an issue that we must rethink for the future."
Casas is also a businessman in the French square of Nimes, where José Tomás was announced this year at Pentecost and at the Vendimia fair in September. The first appointment was aborted due to the pandemic, and the second will be restructured by limiting the capacity to 5,000 people.
Villaseca City Council, seriously committed to the bullfighting festival
"There will be a September fair in Nimes, but José Tomás will not be there because current circumstances do not allow it," he says.
So far, the forecasts of the company that runs the Plaza de Las Ventas, but the current bullfighting goes through other courses no less important.
More than 30 protest walks have been held in as many cities to demand that administrations make the bullfighting festival the same treatment as the rest of the cultural industries. And the Autonomous Communities have already agreed the capacity allowed in each territory that allows the celebration of bullfighting.
And now that?
The walks have been a good sign; the second time (the first was in Valencia, on March 13, 2016) that bullfighting organized to defend their rights.
But have they served or not? They have undoubtedly contributed to making many professionals aware of their situation, and that is an important achievement; but those who prefer not to be deceived know that they have not shown the potential strength of bullfighting. They have all been manifestations charged with emotion, but scarcely backed by the fans.
Perhaps, the dispersion in 30 cities has not been the smartest measure, because the politicians have not felt the breath of bullfighting on the nape of the neck. Perhaps a large demonstration in Madrid would have had a more extensive media effect.
Furthermore, it is not clear whether they have been a reflection of the unity of the sector, or a weak sample of the critical situation suffered by the most fragile level of professionals.
They have shown that the hobby is very short, (forgotten by the bullfighting, and, perhaps, frustrated, tired and bored of a stale bullfighting that long ago lost the north of integrity and emotion), and that the future will depend on the forcefulness, bravery, courage and commitment of the same bullfighting -all- who for years, many, have preferred to live on an island, and see the world from a bubble regardless of the social changes that were taking place.
And a question: how is it that El Juli, Cayetano, Ponce, Castella, Aguado or Morante were not on the esplanade of Las Ventas on Sunday, June 21?
And another, how is it explained that the figures, with the exception of Perera, have not been offered to the Community of Madrid and Plaza1 to reopen the Plaza de Madrid as soon as possible, even in the middle of summer, with an authentic category poster?
It is evident that bullfighting is in need of men and women capable of taking a step forward, ready to take the bull by the horns and fight with all their might for the permanence of a show that is living, perhaps, the lowest hours of all its history.
They are not worth nudging the new normal and smiles with the minister and the presidents and president of autonomous communities that distribute hollow talk and avoid any compromise.
Once again, we must look back at the Toledo town of Villaseca de la Sagra, where its mayor, Jesús Hijosa, a truly committed fan, has announced the tentative qualifiers for the VII Silver Potter Contest for bullfighters without picadors. Starting July 10, five tentaderos will be held in which 25 young people will participate under the direction of Juan José Padilla, who will act as godfather.
Something should be learned from this mayor, so criticized by some bullfighting bullfighters. This is how you work for the bullfighting festival. Everything else is milongas.