As the bullfighting season draws to a close, La Plaza de Santa Maria in central Bogotá plays host to the next generation of bullfighters. Every morning before school, a few hopefuls take advantage of one of the world's greatest bullrings to hone their skills. Here they practise the steps and flourishes that they hope will one day carry them on to international stardom.
Like boxing and football, bullfighting is seen as a way out of poverty and the majority of its success stories derive from humble origins. None more so than the recently retired César Rincón. Having grown up in the infamous neighbouring district of La Perceverancia, he went on to become one of the world's most successful bullfighters, and he continues to be an inspiration for every boy who dreams of fame.
On hand to offer advice and experience are seasoned professionals who shout instructions at their students. These men are only too happy to show you their scars and talk about their successes and near misses. Not only do students learn the techniques required for survival in the ring, they also rehearse the posturing and swagger that appear so spontaneous when performed for the crowd. "It's a dance," I was told by one former matador as he gave me a demonstration. "If you can't make it look beautiful, there's no point to it."