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Bulls Ran the Streets

In the morning shadow of the Sugar Mill, an uncertain fate awaits the bold.

Runners dressed in white and red, wait anxiously as the clock inches its way towards 8 a.m. Clusters of them form, some waving flags, some dressed like Elvis. They keep the nerves at bay with beer, prepare to defend their honor with daiquiris.

The master of ceremonies’ voice rings out. An incantation. A prayer.

“WELCOME TO THE FEAST OF SAN FERMIN!” he bellows, this year just like the last. The seated masses are led through a ritual that will protect them on this day. Hopefully.

O, San Fermin

O, patron saint

Guide us through the bull run

The crowd repeats every word. Their leader screams on from above, his head an explosion feathers[SS1] , his cheeks pink with heat.

Protect us with your cloak

So that we may drink together

In heaven forever!

The runners come to their feet, cups raised in silly sincerity.

In the distance, a herd of bulls readies itself, each prepared to deliver on the terrifying promise its horns suggest.

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti

Amen!

Cheers ring out. A whistle is blown. “RELEASE THE BULLS!” their leader commands. And two hundred roller derby girls wielding wiffle bats skate into the streets.

These are the bulls.

Because this is New Orleans.

Derby girls from near and far, with names like Delirium Trigger and Rest N Peaces, descend upon the Warehouse District every summer to play aggressor in the bit of absurdist street theater that is San Fermin in Nueva Orleans.

There are Alien bulls, Medusa bulls, pizza bulls. Boudoir bulls, dragon bulls, devil bulls. Bulls that look like unicorns. Bulls with red wigs and zombie eyes. Bulls covered in glitter, pompoms, fishnets.

 

Photo by: Zach Smith
Photo by: Zach Smith

Any bull you can (or, more likely, cannot) dream up, it’s  probably rolling towards you, taking aim at your backside. It’s the Crescent City’s take on Spain’s centuries-old tradition–minus the threat of goring.

San Fermin in Nueva Orleans happens every year in July. It’s a three-day celebration of drinking, eating, dancing, and the aforementioned running from fearsome “bulls.”

If you squint hard (or drink enough), it’s just like being in Pamplona. Only here, the harrowing sound of hooves is replaced by the joyful whoosh of skates, the yelps of terror traded in for feigned agony and easy laughs.

Visit New Orleans and start your story with #OneTimeInNOLA.

 

Jenny is a writer of culture both high and low. Her work has appeared in V Magazine, Lenny Letter, and TIME, to name a few. She first fell in love with New Orleans over buttermilk biscuits and strawberry preserves. She’s been a NOLA regular ever since.

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