Running with the bulls in the city of Pamplona is one of those bucket list items that many people want to “tick” off.
In a previous article I wrote about how to run with the bulls. But have you ever wondered what happens once the rush you get from running in front of six crazy bulls is gone?
A short story about bulls adrenaline!?
Right after the run, there is a lot of testosterone in the air, a lot of gorilla roaring and chest pounding. Once these first celebrations finish, Jake, the “brave” runner, will realize that he started running with Billy, his best friend. Of course, Jake will not be able to find Billy, the streets will be too crowded.
Now is the moment Jake will feel a cold shiver in his spine. He will hear a runner saying “did you see the guy who was gored? He really looked bad, I bet he will not even make it to the hospital…” Another runner will answer “I heard he has died.”
At this point, Jake will start running up and down the main street in a panic looking for Billy, but Billy is not answering the phone and Jake can’t find him anywhere! . Jake will then put into practice the Spanish he learnt in school, and ask the police. The police officer will try to calm Jake down, but he doesn’t know that Billy is not such a great runner…
About ten minutes after the run (it will feel like an hour to Jake) the streets of Pamplona will hear a young man screaming “is that you Jake? Billy? Jake? Billy? YEEEEES!” —followed by some more gorilla roaring and chest pounding. It will then be time to share their experience over a cup of hot chocolate with churros at Ernest Hemingway’s favorite place in town “Café Iruña.”
On the first floor on top of Café Iruña, in Plaza del Castillo, we find Pamplona’s most conservative gentlemen’s private club, Pamplona’s Nuevo Casino. Every day at 8:30, right after the run, every local with an invitation (sorry Jake and Billy, you are not invited) comes to have breakfast, talk about the run and start the morning dancing. This first party of the day is called “Alpargata dance” (Espadrille shoe dance).
The dress code in Nuevo Casino, at the end of 1800´s was very strict. The perfect gentleman would always wear a three-piece suit, a hat and a pair of shiny leather shoes. I remember my grandpa’s shoes, they were beautiful, but at the same time extremely uncomfortable.
This dress code was OK for everyday use. But, what about when you are going to run with the bulls? Risking your life wearing a three-piece suit and leather shoes was not a good idea, so grandpa, as well as the rest of men in town, would change those leather shoes, to the more comfortable espadrilles for the race. Right after the run, they would arrive at Nuevo Casino with their perfect suit, but wearing the espadrilles, this is the reason why this dance is known as the Espadrille Dance or Baile de la Alpargata.
Today you can only join this dance if you are a club member or by invitation. It is one of the few places in Pamplona that is still locals only. If by any chance somebody invites you in, be thankful because it is a very special venue. You will see grandmas dancing with their grandkids, teenagers trying to look sober after a long night out, politicians, artists and once in a while, even a Hollywood star.
LET ‘S START THE PARTY!!!! ¡¡QUE EMPIECE LA FIESTA!!!