Tuesday, March 25, 2008

La Boca Juniors

I went to see a futbol game the other day. It was the Boca Juniors against Colon. I went with a tour group that works with some of the local hostels. They provide a ticket to the game, and a ride there and back for $50. That´s about 150 pesos. The thing is the ticket that you get only costs $8 if you buy it yourself somewhere else. That´s a measly 24 pesos a Taxi to the game couldn´t cost more that 15 pesos so I guess you´re paying to be part of the group, which definitely has it´s own benefits.

On the way from the bus to the stadium, there are people selling all sorts of things, food and drinks as well as knock off Boca Juniors gear.

About a block away from the stadium, the cops have blockades where they frisk you before you go past. They don´t frisk the women. Which is nice. They take away various things that could be used as weapons or projectiles. This isn´t hard to get past though, because the search is only cursory. Anyway, people live inside the blockade and I´m pretty sure it is only there for a few hours before the game anyway.

At the gate, they frisk you again before you go in. You put your ticket into a turnstile reader similar to what many mass transit systems have. It punches holes in the magnetic strip to prevent more than one person from using the same ticket.

I had a general seating ticket for the side of the stadium opposite from the hooligans. The tunnel to the general seating indicates that the stadium was built by hook or by crook. The entire place in made entirely of concrete, but the molds seem to be made from 2x4´s. You can see all the joints. It isn´t like back home where the concrete is completely smooth and finished looking. The concrete work here is rough. Then they paint it. You just hope the engineers didn´t make any mistakes.

The general seating is precarious to say the least. Imagine a very steep staircase made from concrete. Make it the size of a stadium and paint it yellow. Add a few rails every 12 or 15 rows to prevent avalanches of humanity and your set. There are now rows, or columns, or walkways. Coca-cola salesmen walk through the crowd as best they can shouting, "Coca! Coca! Cinco pesos!" intermingled with, "Permiso" so that they can get through. They have to hold their tray of drinks high above their heads or they won´t fit through. There job is made more difficult as the crowd thickens and by the fact that there is no direction as to where you sit. It is literally just a wall of stairs you can sit where ever you want. There aren´t stairs for sitting and stairs for walking. It is all just one mass. Such that often you have to move diagonally through the crowd going up or down the steps. People seem to be really good about letting the sellers through.

There are also other vendors. People selling Popsicles are very popular. They carry their wares in Styrofoam coolers. With what looks like dry ices surrounding the Popsicles. If they can find their way into the middle of a group of tourists, it is like a jackpot. They can sell 2/3 of their stuff without moving. People pass the Popsicles and money back and forth. It works really well, because you don´t have to shift from your place and the vendor makes a lot of money very rapidly.

Then there are women selling hats and bandanna these aren´t as popular as the drinks or Popsicles, but they seem to do a decent business. I bought one because I didn´t have any suntan lotion for my noggin.

The for me the best part of the game is the crowd. A minute before the game starts, the hooligan band on the far side of the pitch starts to play. They have lots of drums and trumpets, and they play the entire time. The crowd sings, cheers and at times jumps. I wasn´t sitting on the hooligan side of the stadium, which would have been pretty scary if only for the jumping. The concrete sways and bounces with the jumping. On my side the people were a lot more relaxed and didn´t do much jumping.

They don´t boo here. There are choruses of shrill whistles when they want to show disapproval to the visiting side. When the get in the open or when they make a substitution.

Boca ended up winning 2-1, the drumming and trumpets continued playing. I think that the doors to the cheap seats are closed because the rest of the stadium empties well before anyone even stands up where we are, and still the music plays. I was starting to think that they were actually playing it over the loud speakers for the entire time but as the cheap seats began to empty, I could see the kids with the drums. And they played as they made their way to the exit. They played the entire time, from the start of the game to the time they passed the cops as they entered the tunnel. It was full force drumming for three hours. When they finally finished, the crowd cheered.

Leading a crowd of thousands with your band must be amazing, everyone singing, "Da le Bo! Da le Bo!" to your tune and the other songs for when they score a goal or when an opponent is sent off. The crowd makes the game the experience that it is.

1 comment:

Paper Propaganda said...

sounds like i need to get myself into the popsicle business!