La Paz has so many crazy things to show you…
Woman in ‘pollera’ skirt – “Cholita” – was traditionally a lower class women in Bolivia (like India’s lower caste). For decades, Aymara and other indigenous women were discriminated against. In 2006 Evo Morales – the country’s first indigenous president – was elected. Indigenous people got the same civil rights as the rest of the country. Now they are working as lawyers, doctors, in banks, in secretarial jobs in offices.
Tradition of Quechua and Aymara lives on. Till now Bolivia’s indigenous women wear colorful layered skirts, shawls, endless black hair in braids, and most recognizable part of their style are bowler hats left over from British colonialism. This hats have endless range of styles and colors. Unlike many types of traditional dress, the Cholita’s costume is not for tourist show. The roots of this style date back to the Spanish colonial time, when indigenous peoples were forced to adopt European dress which they adapted to their own climate and traditions.
It was on of the most weird spectacle I’ve ever seen.
Much like professional wrestling in North America this fight (“lucha libre”) is more a theatrical entertainment than a real fight. It is super fake. The cholitas swing each other around the ring, bonk each other on the head, scream, they do a lot of props, fake blood – nothing real. What make cholita’s wrestling unique (and thats why it attract so many tourists) – is that woman fighting here on the same rights as men. They don’t wear spandex and masks, but bowler hats and frilly skirts.
It is a very interactive show. Fighters coming up to you, kissing you in the lips, stealing your beverages, throwing water on you.
I was surprised to see so many locals on that show. They love it as much as tourists – which is always a good sigh for me.
Many people mistakenly believe that “fighting cholitas” is traditional form of Bolivian martial arts, but this style of show begins in the United States.
This type of wrestling with an emphasis on entertainment from USA had a big influence on a native style of Mexican “lucha libre”, performance art fighting. In addition to the dramatic American professional wrestling, Mexicans introduced colorful masks of ancient gods or animals.
During the golden age of Mexico’s lucha libre in the 1950s and 1960s, many of its fighters traveled to South America to promote this sport. At that time Bolivia’s first wrestling organization was formed.
More than entertainment, Cholita wrestling is a way for Bolivian women to prove their rights in a “man’s world”. Having been abused and discriminated against throughout history, nowdays indigenous women can hold their heads high, do their job with pride, and be on equal with men.
Where Multifuncional de la Ceja de El Alto and at the Coliseo Cerrado Julio Borelli Viterito. You can reach the place via the red cable car. Take the main venue, turn right and go through the market.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate (Bs 50 / $7 US for not VIP seat)
When Every Thursday at 18:30 and Sunday at 16:30