That Happend: The NYC World Cup Experience
Every four years in America, there's an underground scene that bubbles up into the mainstream for a little less than a month and then extinguishes, similar to the latest today's hip hop industry. One day you're rocking stylist rented Kenzo and then a few precious moments later, performing at a little league football halftime show in Montgomery, Alabama. In case you haven't guessed, I'm talking about the FIFA World Cup.
The majority of the world is soccer crazy during this time span (Have you heard about some Brazilian witchdoctor putting a hex on Christiano Renaldo's knee?); save for China, India and oddly enough, the United States. However, there is one glorious place where it does work...New York City.
It is very hard to even put what goes on here during the tournament into words. Flashback to my time at University. There were probably two pubs in Tallahassee, Florida where a dozen or so fans got into the spirit of the world's greatest tournament. It was considered truly an underground scene at that point, even in 2004. Soccer supporters would wear whatever jersey they had just to show that they're part of the small family of supporters in the town.
Being the international playground NYC is, things are totally different here. The World Cup means party time. Bars and restaurants that wouldn't usually dare letting an obscene television screen screw up the aesthetic, say "fuck it" for this period only. It's well known by now that even showing a Greece match equals a huge bar payout. Just about every establishment with a decent cable feed touts a world cup showing.
This being my first experience of a truly world cup crazed city, I took full advantage by committing to 90% of my friends' offerings to join them for matches. The cool thing about having buddies from Germany, Argentina, Australia, Ghana and France is that it allows one to experience all sorts of cultures within about a month. I listened to all sorts of regional chants, devoured food I'd never thought of trying and made short-lived friends over gallons of beer. One of the best sports moments I've ever witnessed was inside a Fort Green Brooklyn bier garden. Seeing the the rising and falling emotion of the USA versus Portugal match ending was something I wont soon forget.
There are very few better opportunities to get familiar with different areas of the city and cultures within such a short span. I encourage anyone tinkering with the idea of visiting NYC for an extended vacation to consider popping up in four years time, you won't be sorry. Just prepare to endure terrible German music..