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The Peruvian Fight Club Festival, Takanakuy

By Jack Tomas

The first rule of Peruvian fight club is you don’t talk about Peruvian fight club. The second rule of Peruvian fight club is you don’t talk about Peruvian fight club! (I always wanted to do that). In a town called Santo Tomas, way up in the Andes mountains, the local Indians have an interesting Christmas tradition. To celebrate baby Jesus’ birthday, they don weird masks and hats and beat the living dog crap out of each other. It’s called Takanakuy, and it’s as Christmasy to them as turkey stuffed with yucca con mojo is to my family.

The purpose of the festival is as an escape valve for all the anger and frustration of living in dire poverty. It’s also a way to settle disputes in an isolated area of Peru that doesn’t really have police or courts. You meet up with someone who owes you money, for example, and beat each other senseless. Then you go get a beer. It’s not just the men who fight either. Women and children also do battle. I think these guys are on to something. Thoreau said we modern man live lives of quiet desperation. Also we Latinos have a lot of anger and frustration about our own struggles. Maybe I should organize a Takanakuy here in New York. Everyone meets in Union Sq, and we have a good ol’ fashioned good natured street brawl. What could go wrong?

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