Mexican wrestling is called Lucha Libre, and mexican wrestling in Bethnal Green is called Lucha Britannia. Other than knowing there would be a lot of men throwing each other around while wearing brightly coloured masks, I wasn’t really sure what a British version of Mexican wrestling would be like, and it probably in some ways didn’t help that my only frame of reference for the real deal was a Jack Black movie. But Sophie had been once already and said it was really good fun, the only downside being that before the end of the night all the ‘fun drinks’ (sambuca, tequila) had run out.
After a quick drink in the Camel down the road (lovely pub - only sells pies) we went over to the Resistance Gallery (how aptly named) to be sure we got good positions ringside. The place was getting pretty busy by the time we got there at 9:30 (doors opened at 9) and I’m sure the event was a sell out. The compere, dressed devilishly in black with a macabre white face, red lips and black eyeliner, kicked off the night, introducing us to the referee who looked like a fearsome wrestler himself, his co-commentator (who was similar to the McMahon WWF character – no one liked him and his overly Republican views) and then of course the first wrestlers to take the stage. It was a tag team between The Fabulous Bakewell Brothers in tweeds and braces, and two others whose names I can’t remember (probably because they were the ‘bad guys’ for this round and lost, and I was too taken up with yelling the catchphrase ‘How Doooooo’ every time one of the Bakewell Brothers executed a move and finished it off with a knee-bend-braces-pull signature manoeuvre).
There were more wrestlers than I can even remember, and round after round after round. There were one or two moments where I started to wonder how long the wrestling was going to go on for so that I could turn my full attention to drinking, but these were rare; as soon as I had but thought it, some new twist would occur to bring my attention squarely back to the ring. For example, when Los Hooligans came out, costumed in the finest football thug/nationalistic attire and apparently there were no wrestlers willing to fight them. A plea went out to the audience – are there none among you who will take these reprobates on? And then, from the back of the crowd came the little barman who had served me earlier being lifted towards the front and into the ring. A wrestling mate for him was found and they proceeded to kick ass on Los Hooligans.
Or, later in the evening when there was an every man for himself round with up to six different wrestlers battling it out. All the characters are, well, absolute characters – risque or irreverent or just silly. One of the luchadores was Transexio the cross dresser and another was Estupido dressed in poncho and sombrero. He was a villain, and his name meant that the crowd could gleefully heckle him with shouts of ‘Pido! ‘Pido!
To prevent wrestling fatigue setting in they also break up the night with a couple of burlesque interludes, the best one being the first one. I don’t know the performers name but she was a formidable lady who came into the ring in basque and tiny, tiny knickers. She then proceeded to light candles and drip hot wax all over her ever increasingly naked body. At the end she poured hot wax right into her mouth like some kind of candle moneyshot and spat out the cold wax onto everyone in the front row. I’m happy to report I was fully wax-jizzed over and had to pick the wax out of my afro-curly hair (knew I should’ve straightened it).
The wrestling finished around 1 am and a lot of people left at that point. As predicted, the bar had run out of sambuca and vodka by then, though my friend and I had made arrangements to counter this potentiality. We stayed until the bar shut, while they packed up the ring and some of the wrestlers mingled with the crowd. There were definitely some Lucha fanatics there and apparently, for those who really love it, they host a Lucha wrestling school at the venue on Saturdays for those who want to learn the craft.
It’s £15 which isn’t cheap, but then again is pretty standard for a club event, which this sort of is and it was one of the most unique nights I have been to since I started seeking out alternative nightlife. It was utterly preposterous, and despite it’s naughty names and whotnot was really just some innocent good ole-fashioned fun.