Silver King is standing on one of the posts of the wrestling ring. He’s as shiny as he is menacing.
His spandex glistens in the spotlights.
Once a year, Lucha Libre World brings together a mix of international luchadores and stars of Lucha Britannia for a face-off – Tecnicos, the good guys, against Rudos, the villains.
They’ve turned York Hall, Bethnal Green’s boxing venue, into a miniature Arena México for the night – tequila bar and taco stands lining the corridor, the main hall covered with red lighting, spotlights and neon. The luchador entrance music has to compete with the sound of people cheering for the Tecnicos. Also with the ring announcer’s poetry being thundered into the mic, the excited screams of tiny children (a lot of families in the audience, totally understandable because I will 100% be taking my own children to masked combat sports if it means I can dress them in a tiny luchador outfit), my date romantically yelling ‘holy shit what just happened’ into my ear at intervals, and the sound of extremely built people slamming each other into the floor from a height.
It’s not unbridled violence – there’s choreography at work, and yes, I believe/fondly hope that after the show they all take off their Rudos and Tecnicos masks and just hang out together, fam.
But that doesn’t change how acrobatic the acrobatics are, or how… projectile… the aerials are. The luchadores spin through the air from the posts, skid through the ropes from ring to floor, sending chairs flying. They launch themselves from heights, locked together and flipping multiple times before they land. Watching it on television or from the mezzanine level their grace lets you underestimate the force they hit the floor with. From ringside seats you can hear the sound of bodies hitting the ground, even over the cheers. I’m fairly certain we see some actual injuries both years I’ve been, a melodramatic defeat covering up a real hurt.
Being in the audience is a contact sport in itself, with one of the luchadores sent flying into the woman sitting behind me. She gets a not inconsiderable amount of kicked-in-the-face and a maybe-bloodied nose and laughs it off, instantly becoming the person everybody wants to be on a date with.
So it’s adrenaline-heavy and carries a minor risk of injury. It’s also loud, exuberant and full of spandex. Like all the best date nights… Our advice? Try to go with somebody who’d intercept a foot in the face for you. And, ideally, somebody who’ll agree to let you dress up any future children you might have together as adorable tiny luchadores – just for one night a year.
Lucha Britannia have shows fortnightly at 265, Poyser Street, Bethnal Green, E2 9RF. Website
The London School of Lucha Libre is at the same address, with 3 classes a week. Website