From Córdoba to Valencia By Ándrea Taylor

From Córdoba to Valencia 

By Ándrea Taylor

    After the tragedy of Linares in 1947, a whole myriad of poems, songs, and popular phrases suddenly appeared, describing the fatal goring of Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez "Manolete". 

    One of these phrases, originally spoken in a radio report, and since repeated thousands of times, was: "Manolete está muerto; muerto está, que yo lo vf!" referring to the publics' disbelief on hearing of the death of the seemingly invincible "Monstruo". 

    Almost 46 years later, the daily taurino news sheet published by the Diputación de Valencia during the Feria de Julio had the headline "VICENTE BARRERA VIVE!"

    Quite a few peña members were lucky enough to see this amazing young torero this year; I say young, but Vicente is already 25 and until this year in Fallas had only fought one, very obscure novillada con picadores. Before that his last fight was a festival in Muñera - by coincidence, I have the small cartel from this event, which someone handed to me in another plaza last year. Grandson of the legendary torero of the same name, Vicente is a qualified solicitor, and last year decided he must choose between taking a Masters' degree in London and New York, or one final try at becoming a torero. 

    Fortunately, he chose the latter! Last Fallas nobody gave a thought to him, except to wonder how he had managed to creep into a cartel de lujo with Carrion and Rivera Ordóñez - but 2 hours later, nobody (except a few dozen teenage girls and some ex Paquirristas, who only had eyes for Fran!!) spoke of anything else. 

    When asked later how he had managed to seem so calm, keep so still, fight with such temple, he modestly replied that he'd had nothing to lose; but this can't explain how in his first novillada for over a year and only his second ever con picadores he could nail his feet to the sand, keep his hands so low, standing so straight and majestic. It's more than that. Older aficionados were on their feet, shaking their heads and recalling faenas of "El Monstruo" half a century before, while the younger spectators agreed this was something DIFFERENT! 

    A month later, the Diputación, who have done an excellent job this year, repeated the fight. After a perfect lunch in "Robertos", recommended to me by Stefan Lindwalls' good friend Merche, sister of the late Manolo Montoliú, as the best place in Valencia for paella, we set off for the plaza, hardly daring to hope for a repeat of the Fallas novillada. But a wonderful encierro from Borja Domecq gave us what was, for me, the best taurine afternoon of this season. Once again Vicente gave us the gift of his wonderful, serious torero amanoletado, passing the horns only millimeters away and ending on his last animal with a superb estocada, literally throwing himself over the horns. The salida a hombros was triumphant. 

    By now, Barrera was being managed by the junior Lozanos, and the rain of contracts we expected to see as a result did not happen. 

    In Malaga and a few other places he was disappointing and people started to say he was only a torero local, only got inspired in his own plaza, or that he would be a Flor de un día. 

    Would he disappear like so many other promising Valencian novilleros? There is actually a joke about the existence of a plaza de toros, somewhere in the sky, where all the failed Valencian toreros finally go! Just in the few years that I have been a regular Fallera, I have applauded, on my feet, enough local aspirants to make a football team (which they might be better off doing), only to see them erased again as quickly as they arrived. Jorge Mazcuñan, Paco Senda, Angel de la Rosa, Francisco Perpiñan... the list goes on and on. In the Feria de Julio, Barrera was announced two days consecutively, and for two days, he gave us a lesson in how torero ought to be, (but so rarely is), and next day, the Disputación published the happy headline which I mentioned earlier. 

    Yes, he's still green; the Lozanos' (rightly or wrongly, given his age) seem to be taking him slowly. He docs need more fights, more time, and he candidly admits that the cogidas he's had are due to his own lack of experience. 

    But for myself no one else has such personality, can bring off passes with such deep, moving, emotional beauty. 

    An incident at his last novillada in the Calle Xátiva summed it up; Ricardo has a very nice photograph of Vicente, where all his innate elegance is apparent, and we showed it, amongst others, to Fran Riveras' mozo de espadas, commenting it was a pity that Vicentes' face was half-hidden. The mozo smiled, a little enviously, we thought! "But you can tell", he said. "It couldn't really be anyone else but Barrera!" 


    Abrazos a todos, Andrea, "EL IMPERIO BRITÁNICO" 

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