Chicago Matadors | World’s Biggest Bulls Fans
Known for their entertaining dance routines, thunderous crowd chants and die-hard love for the Chicago Bulls, these super-sized comedians have earned their place in team entertainment history
Bulls select 2011-12 Matadors squad
The Chicago Matadors, the all-male “dance” team which proves that size truly does matter when it comes to supporting your favorite team, named its 2011-12 team on Friday, October 28 at the UIC Flames Athletic Center.
The ideal Matador is first and foremost, a BIG Bulls fan. He loves being the life of the party, proudly displays a wacky sense of humor and rarely, if ever, visits the health club. Men who have painted their face and/or chest to demonstrate team loyalty, initiated stadium-wide chants or shaved the Bulls logo into his chest or back hair would fit in perfectly with this group.
The audition process consisted of an informal interview, as well as the opportunity for the applicants to "strut their stuff." Selections were based on personality, sense of humor, creativity, team loyalty and the ability to perform physical comedy.
Since the initial casting call in September of 2003, the Chicago Matadors have become a permanent fixture at the United Center.
Known for their entertaining dance routines, comedic senses of humor, thunderous crowd chants and die-hard love for the Chicago Bulls, these 12 men have earned their seats in Bulls history.
The Matadors have been performing at Bulls games since their initial debut on Nov. 7, 2003. When not strutting their stuff on the hardwood, these oversized comedians take their seats behind the baskets to entertain fans and cheer on their favorite NBA team. See what everyone is talking about at the United Center this season!
Living the Dream
Once upon a time, sometime before the 2003-04 season...
"Fellas, this is the start of something big."
That's what Chicago native Kevin Blanchard said to his 13 new-found, big, best friends on the night of September 19, 2003. That's when it all started.
Fifty-some heavyweights clad in Bulls jerseys of players past and present, wigs, bull horns, colorful boxer shorts, body paint, capes, sunglasses and whatever else they could drag out of their closets marched heavily up the stairs to a nondescript banquet room on the third floor of the United Center. Some were looking for stardom; some searched for an outlet for their unbridled enthusiasm; some arrived on a dare and some were simply looking for a way to support their favorite team.
Whatever the reason, this myriad of men came from near and far to descend on the Home of the Chicago Bulls to see if they had what it takes to become a Matador.
The application for this new entertainment troupe called for men with BIG energy, BIG enthusiasm, BIG pride for their favorite NBA team and, well, BIG trousers. The goal was to put together a team of 12-15 men who could bring Bulls fans to tears through laughter in the 90-second time frame that makes up what we call in this league, a full time-out. The necessary qualifications for such a mission required little to no fitness regimen, dance experience or shame.
From the moment these rambunctious fans entered the building, the hoots, hollers and one-liners were audible on several floors. Front office employees leaving for the evening were compelled to sneak a peak at the commotion taking place on the third floor and were privileged to be one of the first to see the new Chicago Bulls' in-game entertainment.
The music of "YMCA" and "Maniac" vibrated through the floor -- or was that the vibrations from the heavy feet that pounded on top of it? Either way, the evening was electric. And no one in the room from the panel of judges to the television and newspaper reporters covering the chaos was immune from the comedic talents present.
After learning small segments of choreographed dance steps and taking full advantage of the opportunity to display their comedic personalities, the applicants waited nervously for the results. Who would be the chosen? Who would be the first Matadors?
Fourteen numbers were called out and for the first time, the Matadors were assembled. Since that moment, those 14 individuals have enjoyed a whirlwind tour leading up to their recent debut during the second quarter of the Chicago Bulls game versus the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, November 7.
After only a few brief rehearsals the Matadors embarked on a media frenzy that included stops on Live With Regis and Kelly, The Sharon Osbourne Show, Inside Edition and ESPN2's new morning show, Cold Pizza. Footage of the sumo dancers appeared on television stations nationwide reaching from Boston to New York to Denver to L.A. to Honolulu as well as a stint on ESPN's ever popular SportsCenter.
As the November 7 debut date neared and the team made stops at nearly every television studio in Chicago, the question on everyone's minds was, "Will this group of superfan misfits be able to live up to all the hype?"
A sellout crowd of 22,378 Bulls faithful were on hand to make that determination. As the home team played a spirited first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Matadors huddled up for the first time in their locker room. For one moment that evening, all was quiet among the teammates before they shouted a chant, belly-bopped all around, checked to make sure their wigs were on straight and strutted down the corridor.
The whistle blew indicating the full time-out. The official Matador music piped in over the sound system and the men marched onto the court where they anchored themselves in frozen poses. Bulls Public Address Announcer Steve Scott's voice reverberated over the music as the fans listened intently:
"Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is over. The hype is for real and the time has come to introduce to you the men everyone is talking about. Please, welcome to the floor, your very own... MATADORS!"
While the crowd adjusted to get a full view of what was to come, an air of anticipation filled the arena. The familiar sports tune "YMCA" made famous by The Village People, blared its first notes as the men broke out into vigorous freestyle dance moves and the crowd responded with cheers, whoops and applause.
For 90 seconds the men were kings. Hopping, turning, thrusting and grunting their way through their signature tune as the Bulls fans went wild. It was just like a dream. These men who have spent their lives rooting for their favorite teams from arena stands, living rooms and local watering holes experienced the opportunity of a lifetime. They were able to bring their talents to the court on which NBA championships were won. And the crowd really did go wild.
The men danced off the court to a standing ovation, raced back to their locker room and offered a toast of celebration. Then, as kings do, they took their thrones. All fourteen men took their rightful seats situated behind the basket only a few feet from the bench holding the Bulls athletes they idolize.
The United Center will never be the same.