On March 9, 2013, nineteen masked men and one masked woman brought an all-out war between good and evil down upon a small, private, Liberal Arts College. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, nor will it be the last. That’s right. I’m referring to last year’s Lucha de Sound– the largest lucha libre show in the Pacific Northwest. That particular show holds special significance for me because 1) it took place at my current academic home, the University of Puget Sound, and 2) it was there that I made my first public appearance as a full-fledged luchadora.
A luchador’s debut is no small matter. It is always nerve-wracking. A debut is a sort of trial-by-fire where months or years of training finally come to fruition. There is virtually nothing you can do during your training to prepare yourself for the sensation of being scrutinized by an audience for the first time. And in my case, that audience consisted of over one thousand spectators.
Nothing really compares to seeing the audience for the first time as you enter for your match…especially your first match. Debutante or seasoned luchador, I think that same rush will always be there. That being said, I will never forget my first Lucha de Sound.
I left the doorway of the locker room when the announcers first began the narrative for our match. The locker room is down a short, whitewashed brick hallway. I walked toward the lobby in a trance-like state. I could hear the crowd settling down after the previous match. My quick glance through a side doorway into the gym told me that the audience had grown almost a third its size since I last checked.
I met up with the ring girls in the lobby of the Fieldhouse. We exchanged quick greetings and they wished me “good luck.” Unlike my male compatriots, I wouldn’t be entering with an escort- a strange source of pride for me to this day.
Then, a shot of instant adrenaline as I heard the announcers yell my name, and my entrance music blasted up out of the chaos of cheers. Go time.
I only remember the rest in still-frame instants. The inside of the Memorial Fieldhouse is reminiscent of a wooden airplane hanger. Sound resonates easily up to the rafters. At floor level, the audience fills rows upon rows of folding chairs that surround the ring. Yet more onlookers are packed into bleacher benches on the upper level of the enormous gymnasium. The Fieldhouse is dark, except for the flashing, multicolored lights that illuminate an arch around the giant door through which I have just entered. One by one, my partner, then our opponents, enter the ring to roars of applause…
And then suddenly it’s over. After a 20-minute- long whirlwind of shouts, throws, kicks, and stunts that I can only half-remember performing, I am back in the locker room grinning like an idiot, my fellow luchadores asking, “How did it go?”
It takes a surprisingly long time to unpack the series of mental photographs compiled during a match, and there were moments I could only retrieve after someone else in the match or another luchador who was watching brought it up afterward. But the overall verdict was that my debut had gone swimmingly. I inadvertently set myself a pretty high bar for all of my future matches… though that’s not by any means a bad thing.
After taking off my gear and donning a fresh mask and civilian clothes for a meet-and-greet circuit of the audience, I allowed myself to bask in the glow of a job well done. I had cleared the first hurdle. I was officially a luchadora.