It is 00:30am and I am proudly congratulating myself for my superbly mature but completely out of character decision to have an early night: at the wise old age of 35, two nights out in a row present the same challenge as the construction of seven medium-sized pyramids in one working week without overtime. I am just nearing the point when Long Street ends and Kloof Street begins – the official border between Cape Town city centre and the immediate suburbs – when a car pulls over rather abruptly with its stereo set to maximum aural annihilation.

The occupants of this nightclub on wheels do not so much exit as shimmy, boogie and mambo their way out of the vehicle. The driver closes the door, lifts his left leg onto the bonnet and climbs onto the roof of the vehicle, where he is quickly joined by his two passenger-cum-backing dancers. I stop, mesmerised by the spectacle. The car is shaking from side to side. I hesitate for thirty seconds, then the me of old takes over and I walk over to the car. No questions asked, none required and I hop onto the bonnet to strut my stuff. The roof is too busy – alas – but I have my own private dance piste on the front of the car. Rock and roll – literally.

No photo description available.

Ooooh what a feeling, when you’re dancing on the ceiling…

Another car pulls over in front of us and four Portuguese fans – whose team is playing in town tomorrow – get out and quickly join the party surrounding our motorised fiesta. One guy motions to me to help him up and suddenly it is Toyota Night Fever. There are now no fewer than thirty people immediately around the two cars and a good fifty more watching the show from both sides of the road.

An unexpected and unsolicited siren brings a momentary halt to this free-flowing carnival atmosphere and a police car pulls alongside, blue lights flashing. ‘Howzit guys?’ asks the officer through his open window. ‘Cool man, says John Travolta on the roof, Loving the World Cup man.’ ‘Alright brothers, enjoy yourselves and stay safe’ replies the policeman before driving off without a second glance in our direction.

This is the World Cup and this is why I do this every four years. For one normally so prone to ridiculous hyperbole, I am truly struggling to accurately describe this innocent bubble-world euphoria that I am experiencing with every other visiting football fan.

No photo description available.

Three seconds away from losing my hearing, but not my happiness…

Every single bar in every single street of this beautiful city is packed to the rafters with good-natured football lovers revelling in the insane and intense appreciation that they are simply… here. The streets are exploding with life, sheer unbridled enthusiasm bouncing around like a million rubber balls, people draped in flags, faces painted with national colours and everyone rejoicing in this fantastic festival feeling. Even supporters of losing teams are consoled by this overwhelming and infectious joie de vivre. A beer shared between victor and vanquished resigns the final score to the immediate past and nearly removes both furrow and frown.

One unexpected but wholesomely relished bonus within the suspended reality of this parallel dimension is my rocket-like propulsion from furious fashion nihilist to sartorial svengali. For four short weeks every two years, I can renounce my part-time Unicef rice sack modelling position and walk proud and small amongst my fellow sporting style antagonists. The stadium concourse and Irish pub are my catwalk and shop window and I can even leave the laces of my smelly Converse shoes out in open view without any vestimental recrimination. No-one cares. Here, it is t-shirts and backpack patches from previous tournaments that are the Armani and Gucci of my footballing brethren.

No photo description available.

Looking stylish

And if there is one single area where I have earned my stripes, this is it. For all its holes and faded pantone fibres, my World Cup 2002 t-shirt still engenders insane religious fervour and attention, my very own shroud of Juventus Turin. As displayed by the disbelieving reaction of a young Mexican supporter this afternoon. ‘Were you in… ?’ but he dares not finish the question. ‘Yes son, I am a veteran of the Korea 2002 campaign. It was tough, but I made many friends’.

No photo description available.

Green Point Stadium – Cape Town

You might also enjoy:

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *