Photo by Ann Shields
Lucha Libre at Arena Mexico
The concierge at the hotel was skeptical. The cab driver was amused and skeptical. Lucha libre, or Mexican wrestling, is clearly an unsophisticated embarrassment, tantamount to telling a visitor to the U.S. to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Attending a match, though, is a way to see a side of Mexican culture not found in museums or historic churches, but one that definitely uses some of the same mythology, iconography, and pageantry seen there. The crowd shouts, chants, and laughs through performances featuring dancing girls, inept referees, men in lavish and ridiculous costumes (a caveman with a plastic club, fur boots, and a skimpy loincloth), and some honest-to-God astounding feats of athleticism. Matches—loud and funny and thrilling—take place on Friday nights and occasionally during the week. Tickets can be bought in person at the arena, but arrive early to avoid a long line and use your time to shop the stands set up outside for handmade lucha libre wares (wrestling capes, masks, T-shirts, onesies for infants).
By Ann Shields, AFAR Staff
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Superheroes Fighting Mano a Mano
Experience the Mexican WWE—Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre! As the world's oldest pro wrestling promotion, a CMLL match at Arena México is almost a cultural institution and an unmissable event. Watch luchadores do acrobatic stunts in costumes similar to superhero attire, while the audience participates by rooting for their team (técnicos vs rudos). Excited kids imitate their favorite wrestlers, while the official fan clubs of both sides cheer for their teams with drums and horns, sport matching T-shirts, and wave homemade banners for each wrestler. It's so much fun! You can witness it in different cities, but the main arena is located in Mexico City, the Arena México. The main fights are on Friday and Tuesday nights. Prices go from 50 to 125 pesos, and you can buy them via Ticketmaster or at the box office that same day. One more tip: Try the tortas outside the arena—huge sandwiches for a very, very low price (and delicious)!
By Gaby Cid
Watching Wrestling with Masks is Fun
This is the one thing I highly recommend doing while in Mexico City, no matter what. On a Friday night, tickets can be as low as 50 pesos (less than US$10) and the show is something that will not soon be forgotten! Some friends and I got the most expensive tickets fairly close to the stage (still completely affordable), got some beers (they come two bottles per super-size cup), pulled out our "illegal" cellphone cameras, and screamed our heads off. Three or four rounds left us confused but giddy. And, we were able to catch the new Mistico, one of the fan favorites. Outside we bought signed replicas of his mask as well as t-shirts supporting "los rudos" or the rule-breaking team. Fabulous Friday in the Distrito.
See a Lucha Libre Match
Perhaps your initial impulse is to dismiss lucha libre as an overly touristy gimmick, but you'll quickly be compelled to re-evaluate that impression if you decide to see a match at Arena México. Practically every socioeconomic stratum is represented in the stands, where you'll see men in suits who have hurried from the office and parents with kids in tow, begging for peanuts and cotton candy as Dad orders a fria (cold beer). Lucha libre is a rollicking spectacle, with women in bikinis announcing wrestlers and rounds, promoters, refs, and wrestlers engaging in the occasional overly (and often poorly) dramatized argument about match violations, and, of course, the colorful, varied lucha masks and outfits that make this experience so unique. Expect raucous crowd enthusiasm, insults hurled at wrestlers and at other fans, and lots of laughs. If you want a lucha souvenir, masks, t-shirts, posters, and figurines are sold by vendors lining the sidewalks outside the arena.
By Julie Schwietert Collazo, AFAR Local Expert
Calle Dr. Lavista 189, Doctores, 06720 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
+52 55 5588 0266
Sun 5pm - 7pm
Mon 9am - 3pm
Tue 9am - 10pm
Wed, Thur 9am - 5pm
Fri 9am - 11pm