Today, as Spain wraps up the third day of its annual, nine-day Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, New Orleans readies for tomorrow’s Encierro, its own version of Iberia’s wild street fest – except this one involves no bucking beasts.
Where Pamplona employs angry bulls to storm through the calles, New Orleans brings in the Big Easy Roller Girls (plus skaters from select other derby teams) to glide through the Crescent City’s skinny streets.
About 300 skaters – each decked out in red, donning bull horns-topped hats, and swinging baseball bats – race through the French quarter and chase the some 8,000 runners (dressed in the traditional white with red sashes) who show up for the festival. And yes, the so-called RollerBulls do sometimes whack people with the bats (though mostly men, we’re told).
The Encierro kicks off at 8am and lasts for a fleeting 15 minutes, but it’s just one piece of the four-day San Fermin en Nuevo Orleans, an annual festival named after Pamplona’s famed fiesta. Celebrations include tonight’s El Txupinazo, a flamenco party and Spanish tapas buffet ($75 at Vega Tapas Café) ; the Fiesta de Pantalones ( $5 at 12 Bar on Fulton), a Saturday night concert featuring Los Poboycitos; and Sunday’s Pobre de Mi (free, Vega Tapas Café), a Spanish brunch and Ernest Hemmingway Talent Contest.