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Cape Town live: The Fan Fest Test

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Enjoying the Fan Fest

04/12/2009: The Fan Fest Test 

A concept so well executed in Germany was now coming to South Africa: The Fan Fest.

For the final draw FIFA staged a big spectacle that everybody could participate in at a Fan Fest near you.

We went to Long Street in Cape Town, a street indeed justifying its name: Almost 2 km long, it took us 20 minutes to walk from the bottom of Long Street all the way up to the big screen where Long Street turns into Kloof Street.

During our lunch break we took first sight of an African staged Fan Fest and it was exciting:
Shops were decorated with flags and giant footballs. Stalls by the side of the road promoted World Cup sponsors or sold their own football related version of goods.
Crowds had taken over the entire street, some dressed up in their country colours, some dancing and singing, some just being happy to remain onlookers.
We snatched up free soccer hats and South African flags and felt well equipped for the World Cup to come.

After work we returned and the masses had accumulated. Now Long Street was crowded with all kinds of people, from all kinds of cultural backgrounds. Tourists mingled with Capetonians, workers from townships mingled with snobs from the suburbs. Boere mingled with Afro men.

As we pushed our way through the dense crowd on our mission to make it to the big screen, we all of a sudden encountered a big tumult: Somewhere someone handed out free stuff. Immediately the crowd went for it. People pushed others aside, grabbed whatever they could get their hands on and clung to it with their dear life.
I had managed to get hold of a sweater, but somewhere in the commotion the other part of it found another owner. A big African lady pulled me across the crowd as she stampeded off with my sweater. Dangling behind her, I tried to explain that I had grasped this item before, but to no avail. Like a fishing line she pulled in the rest of the sweater and me with it so I let go. Fortunately someone who had witnessed the scenario was happy to hand me a sweater – he had managed to get two.

After that excitement we realised we’re better off finding a spot shielded from the stream of people shoving and heaving.

We stood with a bunch of Latinos, two Afrikaans boys, a township dude and a group of reggae guys. The view of the big screen was clouded by waving flags, hands up in the air and vuvuzelas. Everybody was in a festive mood. Thanks to the various pups and bars along Long Street, there were plenty of opportunities for refreshments, although once you found a spot it was clever to stay put – the masses were still arriving.

The draw was a drag – all those celebrities who felt they had something to say.
Patiently we waited for a musical act or a performance that was broadcasted live from the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) just around the corner.
Celebrities received sarcastic comments as they bored us with their speeches.
Music was welcomed with a sing-along, dance acts were taken as a break to have a chat with the random people squeezed in next to you.

Finally it got interesting: Which team would play which team and – more importantly for us who knew we’ll be in South Africa during the World Cup – where.

This was the moment where the crowd so diverse in its cultures and backgrounds, so sensitive because of history and oppression, merged into one: We all might have had different teams to support, but in the end it came down to the one and only thing that mattered: What will happen to Bafana Bafana.
In high expectation it got very quiet every time another team got drawn to play South Africa. Just for a loud and excited discussion to break out straight afterwards to assess Bafana Bafana’s chances.
But when the last team was drawn and announced as France, the crowd’s reaction was like out of one mouth: a disappointed ‘Oh!’ rippled through the entire length of Long Street. Only to erupt in laughter, as we all realised: We’re actually all the same.

We stayed on to watch ‘Freshly Ground’ and returned happily home having witnessed the phenomenon of a nation uniting.

They say this will be an African World Cup, but whatever it is, it’s still the World Cup.

And with the Fan Fest Test passed, it’ll be one hell of a party. So make sure you can say you were there.

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