07 March 2010
Turista Libre 1.5: Bordertown Esmackdown
Too many of us own lucha libre masks that we've never worn on a day other than Halloween or outside the bedroom. Turista Libre no le gusta.
In the interest of resolving this colloquial wardrobe dilemma, for TL 1.5 we headed to Tijuana's municipal auditorium, the city's official house of lucha libre.
From the border we trekked downtown through the Tijuana dusk, heavy with roasted corn and carne asada fumes, with a neon flashlight as our guiding light. Crossing the river and pushing farther into the city's panoramic constellation of copper street lights, we deadheaded for Sixth Street and Avenida Constitucion, where our chariot -- a retired jungle-green school bus -- was waiting.
And, of course, we rejoiced when noticing that it bore Mickey Mouse decals and white flames across its hood.
A few miles southeast of the city center, the auditorium is an intergalactic homage to 1980s domed architecture. You know, the sort whose roof looks as though it doubles as a spaceship dock that's about to crack open toward the sky at any minute.
We sat ringside, mere meters from the stretchy-pantsed technicos (the good guys) and rudos (the bad guys) for all their body slams, somersaults, backflips and trash talk en español. Starring in the night's bout were La Parka and Arandu, who were backed up by beefcake of both stripper bod and tubby, moobed varieties.
The turistas dove right in to shouting obscenities at the wrestlers with the crowd, a time-honored tradition among lucha libre spectators both ancient and wet behind the ears. Funny how quickly language barriers disappear when screaming for the guys on stage to kiss or take off their latex diapers. Neither happened, but whatever.
The evening's highlights, while many, no doubt climaxed when three or four fighters decided to gang up on the ref, bend him over, pour a full beer down the back of his pants and then shove the cup into his asscrack.
Before heading in, we browsed the neon merch in the lobby, while Daft Punk's "Robot Rock" fittingly echoed from the arena.
And as soon as we found our seats we wasted no time in having our fill of concessions -- Big Gulp beers, shrimp Clamatos, bacon-wrapped hotdogs and pistachios. Many thanks to the magical man in the neon Tecate vest who kept them coming.
And as soon as the fight had finished, we followed the kids' lead and hopped into the ring for a few minutes of play.
No one knew until it was all over, but the match was to raise money for Rodriguito, a super-fan of a little guy who's sick in the hospital, and the guys who took the ring for the first round weren't real luchadores but dads and uncles from Rodrigo's family.
Afterward if was off to Tacos Salceados, down the boulevard and around the corner from the stadium on Ermita Sur. The taqueria is famous among Tijuanenses for its strawberry and pineapple tacos but serves the everyday adobada and carne asada varieties, too.
The evening's cooldown came at Santa Leyenda, a lucha-libre-themed bar with milk crates for chandeliers and '70s Mexican wrestling flicks on the flatscreens. It's part of a cluster of six new watering holes known as "El Callejon" ("The Alley") downtown on Sixth Street.
Before too long, the turistas were welcomed into the locals' corner via a round of toques (aka the "How long can I hold onto this metal rod that's connected to a car battery that's disguised as an Ernie doll?" game).
With about 30 who came and went over the course of the night, this was Turista Libre's largest outing to date.
More photos here.