LUCHA LIBRE, or the art of living at risk
In the middle of the arena there is a ring.
A referee, a presenter. Characters.
Everyone is wearing customs, but this is where the parallel with a traditional circus ends. In Lucha Libre, the general public is masked as well, and their loud comments get answered by the luchadors themselves, before and during the fight. The tension of the audience is raised to the maximum for the wrestler to face during battle.
Words alone cannot express the essence of this experience because it is pure enchantment mixed with the reality of everyday life. It is an improvisation in the here and now, but performed on the largest scale ever attempted in the world of arts: a spontaneous improvised game performed for television channels, for arenas with 17.000 seats or in a field in Congo for more than 30.000 live spectators.
It is the ultimate battlefield of good and bad, right and wrong, beauty and ugliness in the boiling melting pot of tragedy and comedy, mixed with the divine force and the banalities of life. Lucha Libre, or Catch in a popular term, is a live art. That is why it is very difficult to describe with words.
This popular art form is practiced on almost every continent and consists basically of a game, thousands of years old, created from a fight in combination with power and humour. The multiplicity of different rules and ways lays out a blueprint of human civilization.
It is a real stage art in the sense of a circus with acrobatics and “freaks”, with the spectators, lighting and sound design and live video, but it is very different from the traditional European stage arts like opera or theatre. Lucha Libre is the only art form we know of that can survive without constant financial assistance from the government or any other interference of elitistic art lovers like academics or critics.
Lucha Libre is a spectacle that has gotten out of hand, it has become a living movement taking over the world like a virus.
An art experience, unlike anything else, is infectious for both the spectators and the luchadors.
A show that should never stop for it has addicted its audience and will therefore always set out to go further.
It is the only live art that thematises courage.
You need not to have already seen lucha libre, you should not even be able to read or write your own name to understand what is going on, or as a performing artist, to be able to participate.
The Lucha Libre experience is much more intense than watching a movie.
Because life itself is at stake.
These stuntmen and women are playing their characters, but the general public always acts like a live artistic director on itself, making up their own story.
And each day there will be the luchadoras and luchadors training for this confrontation, for the improvisation as the highest sport on the ladder of conciousness.
It is not like the performance of a magician, where the show becomes ridiculous once you understand the tricks.
If you are behind the scenes in the arena or if you take a peek into a workshop of a mask maker, Lucha Libre remains a mystical experience that reminds me of what Immanuel Kant, the great teacher, called the sublime experience.
If you, as a privileged lucky bastard, get the chance to touch the masks and turn them inside out, you will see that they are brown with dried blood.
In the masks, but also in the arena itself, you can smell the enchanting pheromones of humans who want to survive on the edge of the razor blade of life.
Here you can smell the danger of death melting together with ultimate fun.
Nietzsche was probably right: a modern human is genuinely happy when in danger.
Written by Marijs Boulogne
BELGIAN CATCH - photo gallery by Simon Van Steenwinckel
WRESTLERS - photo gallery by Anabelle Schattens
Lucha Libre dates:
• 20-28 May 2017 - CATCH 2060, wrestling events with the Laurent Gerstmans Cup, and Tag Team Champion Match: Rob Raw & Rex Rage vs Darkmondo & Sheikh Kamel’- Het Oude Badhuis, Antwerp, Belgium (Marijs Boulogne as organizer an presenter of BYWS (photo gallery)
• 6 May 2017 -NUITS DU BEAU TAS: LUCHA LIBRE: Catch & Rock (BYWS and BCWF) & music (Electronic Pancakes/Mikeal J.) Marijs Boulogne participating as general manager and official member of the jury of referees of the European Catch Federation - Festival Nuits du Beau Tas, Rue de la Grande Île 62-64, Brussels
• 1 April 2017 - Catch, BYWS (Marijs Boulogne as presenter) - CG Ten Weyngaert, Vorst, Brussels
• 3 December 2016 at 7 pm - Big Impact 4 - BYWS (presenting the first ever womens title) - La Tentation, Brussels (Marijs Boulogne co-presenting the show with Tony Cavalieri and Crazy Joe)
• 7 & 14 September 2016 at 6pm and 10 pm - live wrestling and Lucha Libre with Brussels Young Wrestling Style (BYWS) - BXLovesummer, the Buers, Brussels (Marijs Boulogne as presenter)
• 17 August 2016 at 6pm and 10 pm - live wrestling and Lucha Libre with Brussels Young Wrestling Style (BYWS) - BXLovesummer, the Buers, Brussels (Marijs Boulogne as presenter)
• 26-28 August 2016 - live wrestling and Lucha Libre with Brussels Young Wrestling Style (BYWS ) and Brussels Pro Wrestling (B.P.W.) - FIESTA LATINA , Carrefour des Attelages by Beurs, centre of Brussels (Marijs Boulogne as presenter) - (video )
• 18 April 2015 - LUCHA LIBRE - Spelers Van De Ring with Shaolin Colorado aka Simba Babote, Crazy Joe - BYWS, Caïman Jr Colorado, Monster Robinson, Adonis "The Great" - BYWS, Melina, Mxelle Maïva, Sheikh KAMAL, The Master Kong - BYWS, RJ Jaguar, Reno, Achilles BYWS Wrestler, DJ Esteban, and many others. With live comments by Fritman, aka Monsieur La Frite, Reno Raiden and Marijs Boulogne - open air live wrestling, free admission. Organized by Tramstad , Volkfeest, Ultrasport - zone Drink, Antwerp
• 5 February 2015 at 10.30 pm - LUCHA LIBRE - Wrestled Hommage to Lucha Libre, by Belgian wrestlers, organised and presented by Spelers van de Ring - Festival de Liège, Manège, Liège, Belgium - FB photos
• 9 December 2014 at 12.45pm - CAMPUSTALKS #22: THE SKY IS NO LONGER THE LIMIT - Marijs Boulogne speaking on 'LUCHA LIBRE , or the art of living at risk' at PechaKucha Presentations - Kultuurkaffee - VUB, Campus Etterbeek, Brussels
• 6 July 2014, 18:00–20:00 - Live Wrestling - Spelers van de Ring, Plazey festival, Brussels
• 2 May 2014 - Live wrestling , Spelers van de Ring in Antwerp, with indy wrestling stars Saraya Knight, Sammi Baynz, 'The Bull' vs 'Lady Lory' vs Emelie Sauvage, Jaguar, Crazy Joe, Monster Robinson, Ringmaster, Incognito, Shewolf of Bruges vs Little Red Riding Hood... - opening of Het Bos (new Scheld'apen), Antwerpen, Belgium
• 29 March 2014 - Catch me! If you can... - Spelers van dr Ring with La Mommia, Heddi Karaoui, Crazy Joe, Monster Robinson, Incognito, Sheik Kamal, Ring Master, Caiman Colorado, Am Crush, Hugo Darkmondo, S'n'b, Peter Fischer, Camille vs Helena (wrestlers coming from 3 different clubs: B.Y.W.S., Abca Catch and Supremacy) - Aeronef, Lille, France - (FB , photo reportage )
• 22 December 2013 from 2pm - 4pm - Lucha Libre Mexicano - 'Triple Menace' with The Bull vs Heddi Karaoui vs Shaolin Colorado and Spelers van de Ring - BRONKS, Brussels, Belgum22 December 2013 from 2pm - 4pm - Lucha Libre Mexicano - 'Triple Menace' with The Bull vs Heddi Karaoui vs Shaolin Colorado and Spelers van de Ring - BRONKS, Brussels, Belgum
• 30 November 2013 - whole afternoon Open door event with Brussels Young Wrestling Style (B.Y.W.S.) - temple Masano training centre, Brussels, Belgium
• 20 October 2013 at 8 pm - BruLesk Soirée n°2: Marijs Boulogne with the Brussels Catch Club (SVDR - Spelers Van De Ring) - Live Wrestling, NADINE, Brussels, Belgium (FB )
• 14 September 2013 - Presentation in the theme of catch (whole night), of the Flesh Factory Festival , Rockerill, Charleroi, Belgium
• 3 August 2013 - Spelers van de Ring (Brussels Catch Club) and Brussels Young Wrestling Style perform their shows in the afternoon and evening, in the festival's main meeting point of Theater Aan Zee, Oostende, Belgium
• 16 February – 10 March 2013: Edgy Women Festival - EDGY 2013: 20th ANNIVERSARY ART/ SPORTS/GENDER, Studio 303, Montréal, Canada. Ferocious local female fighters take the ring for Edgy Lucha, a series of wrestling matches in a feminist spirit of Lucha Libre curated by Belgian experimental theatre artist Marijs Boulogne. (photos 1, 2)
• 16 June 2012: De Brakke Grond, the Flemish cultural centre of Amsterdam: La Invacion - premiere of the 8 hour show of Lucha Libre. Direction, dramaturgy, costumes, scenery and presentation by Marijs Boulogne.
• 16 June 2011: Brussels, De Kleurdoos: performance director B.Y.W.S. (Brussels Young Wrestling Style) Theatre Show with youth theatre school.
• 8 May 2011: Hasselt, Villa Basta: performance director B.Y.W.S. (Brussels Young Wrestling Style) Theatre Show with youth theatre group: “Villa Basta” in Hasselt (town) after working for a year on the theme of courage with 30 youngsters from 2 different cities and language groups in Belgium.
• 27-28 February 2010: Lucha Libre Mexicana - Bozar, Royal Circus Brussels: Official Dutch presenter at the Mexico Festival 2010, commissioned by the Mexican Embassy of Belgium, Conaculta, and the Belgium Museum of fine arts (Bozar) with legendary wrestlers a.o. Hijo Del Santo, Cassandro El Exotico and Magno.