Over the past 57 years there have been modifications in deference to modern concepts of public safety.
Today it seats 95,000.
What was it like before?
A giant cattle pen.
As you'll see they still allow beer and fireworks.
The night I went there was nowhere near a capacity crowd and I was a little disappointed that only 20,000 were predicted.
I needn't have worried as those who did show were noisy and brought copious amounts of flags, musical instruments, and fireworks.
When we arrived we stopped to have a beer and watch the preliminaries outside.
Brazil has just been awarded the 2014 world cup and as a result there's been a drive of sorts to make things a bit safer at the footie.
I was told that if this had been a game between teams with a "slum" (flavellas) following, then "that fancy camera of yours would have been pinched and passed through a dozen hands about 45 seconds after you got it out"
Lucky me that it was only the B team that turned out.
To be fair there were a lot of cops hanging about though they didn't seem particularly interested.
In fact I could have sworn this guy was, how should I put it?........ Oh ya "DRUNK,"
That's the word I was looking for.
At least he was friendly. Officer sweaty below was ready to give me a thrashing.
I moved swiftly on.
Inside the stadium there's a constant stream of beer, popcorn, water.... did I mention beer?.. a conveyor belt of weak watery, yellow beer.
Belch. There were also hot dogs but I didn't have the guts to take a crack at them.
The little piece of merchandise below was my personal favorite of the day.
The standing guy is from home team.
No prizes for guessing the significance of the team colours on the girl's thong .
Juvenile I know.
I admit it.
I bought two at £3 a pop .(terrible, terrible pun I know)
Such provocative stuff is frowned upon in the UK.
Nor (burp) is there beer served inside the football ground.
What they lacked in numbers they made up for in noise. The drumming and singing didn't stop from the start to the finish.
Flags are a big thing.
The guy below has the style but he's getting on a bit and sits well away from the mayhem.The technique is to spin the flag and sway back and forth.
In 80+ degrees you have to be fit.
They pass it from person to person and catch their breath while all the while the flag keeps spinning. When its rocking and the drums are pounding ,it looks something like this:Impressive.
Lest you think its all sweetness and light in Brazilian football, the picture below shows the thought put into a defence when things get out of hand.
What do they do when they pack the place?
Fill the moat with burning oil?
Or do the fireworks set it alight?
How many times have I watched football from Turkey, Italy or South America and thought
"Holy shit, that looks dangerous!"I was right.
It is dangerous.
And Brazil.If you've followed this blog you know I like taking pics of people.
The problem I had that night was camera shake. Given the drums, heat, beer and over excitement of it all I think I can be forgiven.
Here's a little selection anyway.Serious folks these Brazilians.
I liked this guy so much I took his pic twice.
Last bit of the football then we can move on to the beach.
What do you find interesting about the pictures below?
Would you see the an equivalent in the US or Europe?
Remember this is top flight football.
Brazil's NBA or NFL (to make sense to what I'm saying for all you yanks and Canucks). Yep, they had a chick officiating.
Not one catcall or remark about this from the crowd.
But then again as I don't speak Portuguese, I wouldn't have understood if they did.
Pretty hot for a ref huh?
Whose the sexist bastard now I wonder?
Amongst all this there was a bit of football. A final note.
At halftime there was an old guy who walked around the pitch juggling the ball with his feet, never letting it touch the ground for the duration of the interval. The crowd headed for the toilets, or continued their flag waving, dancing or drumming.
No one but me and my colleague Luis (who pointed him out to me) paid him any heed.
Apparently he's there at every halftime regardless who is playing , doing his thing and largely ignored.