Sunday, July 11, 2010

Night of the Vuvuzela (not the waltz)

vuvuzela I returned to Maasstricht late last night; the sky was lit up with thunderstorms and the midnight streets were filled with drenched refugees from the annual Andre Rieu concert week in the Vrijthof Square.  Yet, even through the classical garb, soggy spirits, and tropical humidity, the vuvuzela rang out over the city.

The horn, a South African instrument, has become a big symbol for this year’s World Cup match (okay, still a step behind Beesie), With the finals upon us in a few hours, the horns are everywhere.  As the Dutch helpfully describe them:

Een vuvuzela is een Zuid-Afrikaans blaasinstrument van hout of plastic, dat een enkele toon produceert. Het blaasinstrument is voornamelijk bekend in landen gelegen in het zuiden van Afrika. De hoorn is circa 62 cm lang en door op een bepaalde manier te blazen komt er een geluid van circa 130 decibel uit.

Even without understanding much Dutch, you get the impression that it is a) long, and b) loud.  They sound a bit like ragged alpine horns, usually accompanied by shouting and singing.  It all makes  a wonderful blend of street noise that goes well into the evening.  This evening, especially, will be frenzied (there are worries in Amsterdam that vuvuzela-tooting hoards will stomp over the roofs of the houseboats, with attendant risks of capsizing and sinking).

Andre Rieu moved the stately evening of waltzes out of the Vrijthof Square this afternoon, taking up residence in the MECC Convention center outside town. Both the match and the extreme heat (hitte); have been a challenge: there will be a live connection back to the Vrijthof, split-screen with the games.

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This is no mean trick: his stage is the size of a Greek monument, with multiple levels and archways to support the dancers and musicians.  This is what it looks like, and the square they are vacating for tonight’s game.

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At any rate, I’ll be there, just hours from now.  ‘Fingers crossed, no matter what Paul the Octopus and Mani the Parakeet predict…

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