This story has nothing to do with flying airplanes other than to relate how much fun charter operations can be on the "high end." I was minding my own business in Rio de Janeiro for the third or fourth time when we found out there was a blood match that night. Well, how could we resist that?
— James Albright
As I was thinking about putting all this to paper, my primary thought was . . .
I hope to make it out alive
Who: Fluminese versus Flamengo
What: FLUFLAX Blood Match
Where: Maracana Stadium, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
When: As often as possible, allowing enough time for casualties to be healed or replaced
Why: Because this is football in Brazil, the way it has to be!
How was the game, you ask?
Well I've been to one world's fair, a rodeo, and a Led Zeppelin concert; this football match was the most chaos I've seen that I had to pay to get into.
It was a blood match between two rival Rio De Janeiro teams: Fluminese and Flamengo. We decided to root for the Fluminese team since we entered the stadium on their side and cheering for the heathens on the opposite end of the field seemed to be a less than healthy option. Before the game began the crowd began to surge, powered by untold amounts of beer and the smell of tobacco and its related aromatics that may or may not have legal sanction in this part of Brazil. As I studied the crowd I became faintly aware of my quickening pulse, a boom, boom, booming that was more guttural than ethereal. It was then I noticed the thousands bobbing up and down, rhythmically, in time with the palpitations within my wrists. How can this be? Has the universe placed itself in synchronization with my newfound tachycardia or was I dreaming it all? Boom. Boom. Boom.
"The drums really add to the excitement," Ian said, "don't they?"
Yes, it was the drums. Massive drums spread throughout the Fluminese side of the stands. Boom. Boom. Boom. That was it. I might survive the night after all.
When the godless Flamengo team entered the stands the taunting began. A shrill, collective whistling. We don't want your kind here. We are going to bury you and dance upon your graves. Just then the entire crowd breaks into dance. What kind of culture sanctions this kind of madness? And then the singing begins. "What are they singing?" I ask a local who seems to know a few words of English. "We are calling the other team the children of whores." Indeed.
At last the game was afoot. Running from end to end of the field with failed attempt after failed attempt. At one point the heroic Fluminese effort resulted in a near miss of only an inch or two above the goal netting. All Brazilian hell broke loose as the crowd cheered in congratulations for the valiant effort. The cheering would not last, however. The first half ended with no score from either side and things turned ugly. There was audible weeping and senile muttering. And that was just from me.
Still there was the noise. The only thing that would make it worse would be a thunderstorm. And that's what we got. The mother of all thunderstorms parked itself on top of the stadium and Thor himself threw lightning bolt after lightning bolt upon us.
The crowd was not phased. We are Brazilian football fans, they chanted. Is that all you got?
At last the weather abated and the second half began. Right out of the gates the Flamengo team scored. Our side was thrown into stunned silence. I could, for the first time that night, begin to reel in my senses. But it wasn't to last. Thirty seconds later everyone around me breaks into more chanting. Chanting. Even Ian is chanting. "What are you saying?" Ian shrugs his shoulder, "When in Rio..."
Another ten minutes goes by and a Fluminese player dances over the ball, taunting two rivals. The crowd roars in approval. First left, then right, then right up the middle. From twenty meters it was a laser shot just out of the goalie's reach. The score is tied and again we dance.
When the dance breaks into dual arm pumps and pelvic thrusts I stop myself. "Does this mean what I think it means?" I ask my Anglophile neighbor. "We are telling the opposing team we are about to ... right up the ..." Oh.
If you've never been to an all out riot, you cannot imagine the night. Fortunately we have video:
Another score. Another. Another. Fluminese is turning this into a rout. There is hugging, back slapping, and kisses. And that was just Ian, who was showing comparative British reserve compared to the locals.
From the opposite end of the stands we see sobbing. Dejection. Withdrawal. Mercifully, it is soon over. That is when it really begins.
As we are making our way out of the stadium anywhere a Flamengo jersey is seen, there is more taunting. Pelvic thrusts. I hope to make it out alive.
In the end we only saw one fight and one mad scramble by the police. It is now twelve hours since the madness. And still I feel the rhythmic pulse. Boom. Boom. Boom.
I cannot get the image of the pelvic thrust out of my mind. I wish Ian would stop that.