Ahhhh yes. Flashbacks. I haven’t thought about the Great Brazilian Invasion until just a few days ago when the World Cup started. But now that I’m clearing the cobwebs from the brain, I can see the champs of ’94 as clear as day.
Since Stanford University was one of the venues for the ’94 World Cup, there was talk around Los Gatos, CA. that the Brazilian team was going to be housed in the area during the tournament. Huh. Ya, o.k, interesting, whatever. They just happened to be staying right up the street from my job at the time so there definitely was some curiosity brewing. It seemed cool enough but I don’t think anyone was prepared for what was about to happen. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Los Gatos, it’s a pretty upscale community, family oriented, clean, quiet, quaint, etc. It has always had its staple bars and late night hangouts but overall, it’s fairly tame and at its worst, has had moments of controlled chaos. But when the Brazilians came to town? Holy crap. Where did these people come from?! Night after night, the word was spreading that the Brazilian soccer team was out every night, after 2:00a.m. Of all the nerve. Truthfully, I don’t know if the team itself was in charge of getting the party started and I think they occasionally joined the parties but the supporters who loved and followed them seemed to have been the driving force behind what would be a month of celebration in the town. They were dancing in the streets, playing samba music, grabbing women they didn’t know to dance with them……and the locals were loving it. How could this be? It was like a fever was catching on and since I lived and worked up the street from where they were staying, my friends and I decided to check it out for ourselves.
Upon approaching the party for the first time, it was better than what we had heard. Downtown Los Gatos actually looked different. It felt like you were walking into the middle of a street party in another country, with flags waving and drums beating from every direction. I have no idea if the team won the day I decided to check out the scene. All I know is that beautiful Brazilian men, women, & kids were dancing and grabbing everybody to dance with them. And everybody wanted to dance with them. Granted, all of this took place in the middle of a work week, but in a town which is civilized to a fault, this was a breakthrough. Very simply put, nobody gave a rat’s ass about whether or not anybody was disturbed by the party. Everyone just wanted to keep it going until the drums stopped. That was it. The Brazilian team was from that point on the home team and they were going to remain so until they left. There was a slight pause when they played the U.S. but I think everyone got over it.
With every game, we were holding our breath for Brazil to win so they would be ready to start the party again. No matter what, the party continued and the support for the parties grew as they became more and more popular every day. Let’s just say that Los Gatos needed (has always needed in my opinion) a dose of “chill the f—out” and this was it.
The funny part was that you didn’t know who was a player and who was a fraud because it seemed like a lot of guys were wearing yellow jerseys and telling women they were players since women were now hot and bothered by the Brazilian team. Who knew?! I didn’t know what the hell the team looked like! I paid little attention to our own team much less the boys from Brazil. I just knew they were young and cute and knew how to samba! And when they actually won the whole thing? Just….absolute joy. If I remember correctly, the final was in Pasadena but the celebrations still took place. The entire Brazilian community who brought their celebrations to Los Gatos, left their footprint on the town which was to be memorable to everyone who was lucky enough to enjoy it.
And then they left. Talk about devastation. The parties came to a screeching halt. The Brazilian team and their supporters who followed them every night were so evidently missing, it was just sad. For a time it seemed like there was a lingering…..dare I say…..loss. It went back to being quiet and civilized because after all, parties can’t last forever but they were sorely missed. Mention that time to anyone who was there (and didn’t want to sleep for the month of June) and they will tell you how fantastic it was to have enjoyed such an invasion. I think it would be welcomed again at the first beat of a drum.