Jan 03, 2000
What was hailed as having the potential of being the biggest man-made disaster in human history seems to be turning out to be the biggest flop in human history. I am amused.
Rio Y2K update
I slept for most of the 1st although I did notice that there was electricity. January 2nd was a Sunday and everything was closed so it was difficult to tell if any problems existed. On the 3rd I ventured out searching for internet access. The first two cyber-cafes were closed due to problems with the phone lines. The ATM I went to gave me a generic system error. Y2K or just general Brazilian infrastructure problems? No one here seems to care and I guess I don't either. I did eventually get to check my email.
Prologue New Years 2000 on Copacabana beach was not quite as insanely wild and crazy as I had hoped. I had expected millions of people in one place, especially if they were Brazilian, to create an incredible energy where the excitement and enthusiasm of each person would build on one another leading to absolute insanity. Instead I now believe that there is some number of people that is enough (supposing that you like crowds). The additional people to little to enhance your experience. 3 million people showed up to celebrate New Years on Copacabana beach. It was not as crazy as I had hoped for, but still me and the 100,000 people close enough to enhance my experience did have a damn good New Years eve. Maybe next year, a smaller but wilder crowd - possibly a town in southern Spain, or a Greek island.
I wake up a bit hung-over. The night of the 30th had been a fun evening of drinking at sidewalk vendors overlooking the beach until 5am. A little lunch and I am running around town trying to decide on an all white outfit for the evening. I settle for white shorts and a Rio 2000 t-shirt.
I decide that I am taking a nap to rest for the night ahead. It lasts for less that 5 minutes. In addition to the large explosions from impromptu fireworks a band starts playing outside my apartment. A quick shave and I am suddenly hit with a rush of energy and excitement. I leave the apartment as the band starts marching, grab a beer at a sidewalk vendor and start dancing with the crowd gathering behind the band. I quickly decide that I am too sober to keep dancing and head off for another beer. I dance with the band on occasion as they march down the street and then leave them to see what is causing a crowd to gather on the other side of the street. As I get to the edge of the crowd I see 30 transvestites storming up the sides of a firetruck trying to kiss the firemen. After the firetruck escapes, they stop tour busses, ride on the top of police cars and similarly attach every other passing vehicle. It turns out that it is actually a group of straight men who dress up this way for New Years every year, but it was sure fun to watch.
I take a break from watching the growing excitement to have some dinner. After dinner I head over to one of the main stages to watch some popular Brazilian band playing. After a few songs, it is getting too difficult to get through the crowds for more beer. Besides, I'd rather just remain on the beach with a good view of the stage than making regular beer runs. So I make a quick stop at the apartment to pick up my pre-prepared, personal stash of 1.5 liters of Jack & coke.
A sudden and ill foreboding cold breeze. Then at 10:30 disaster strikes - it starts to rain. A depression hits me. I am in shock that I have traveled half way around the world to have a warm dry New Years eve and it is raining. I take my shirt off in defeat realizing that my back will dry faster than my shirt. At 10:35 I see a group of four Brazilian men dancing without shirts. I decide that they are my type of people as they are passing around a bottle of something. I toast them with the intent of mourning a the death of a dry New Years eve. Suddenly my attitude changes as they invite me to join them. We are all dancing in the rain and are passing around the unlikely combination of a bottle of Jack & coke and a bottle of Vermouth, taking swigs from both bottles. I continue to drink and dance for the next hour.
I wander off trying to find some girl to kiss to welcome in the New Year and fail. The fireworks however are spectacular and last for twenty minutes. Half an hour later, I do meet a girl I look at her and she greets me with "Gringo". We have a nice time walking and talking for the next 3 hours despite her friends fight with her boyfriend. At 3:30 in the morning she heads off leaving me with her phone number. A number I was very upset to realize that I lost before the night was over.
As it was still drizzling the next logical stop is indoors and I head over to the famous and infamous club Help! discoteca. I put my shirt back on. I don't think that with short and flip-flop I met their dress code, but they decide to let me in anyways. I walk around the edge of the dance floor unimpressed with the crowd. Then on the far side I see two women dancing and join them. In particular I start dancing with one of them. She reminds me just a bit of Lola from the movie "Run Lola Run". It is hot in the disco and she's drunk - to cool off she pours water of both of us. We both enjoy drinking the champagne more than the beer, so the beer is the next thing poured over us. Drenched in sweat, water and beer, we are dancing very closely and the songs are not slow. Still on the dance floor we start taking drinks of champagne and kissing passionately, the bubbling champagne flowing from mouth to mouth. We would have made quite a scene if this was anywhere but Rio. Before 5am we are back at my apartment.