The Sevens: Part 1
There is definitely a strange surrealism to the Sevens. I looked up to see a man stroll past the doors to our office building in a pink belly-dancers outfit. His rough five o'clock shadow covering the same nonchalant expression as the other business folk walking along the road.
Later I saw a caveman jump on the back of a pirate. Historical inaccuracy abounds. A Roman centurian uses a cell phone. Storm troopers walk happily with wookies. A very skinny Spiderman makes out with a decidedly adult version of Miss Muffet. Two girls dressed as zebras wear tshirts that say "America, f*ck yeah!"
Next year I hope somebody comes as a lobster telephone.
Just inside the gates in the outdoor portion the mood is light. There are games, dancing and a climbing wall. There is a kissing booth where hired girls exchange beads for a peck. They are admirably un-smeared with face paint.
One shirtless man walks out of the concourse with blood running down his face and chest. I think I can see someone's hair and flesh on his knuckles. We head in.
I don't see anything before I'm hit with a physical wall of sound. It feels like we've stepped into a fast flowing river. Everyone is heading somewhere and the ones that aren't are providing solid physical barriers like rocks that you try to avoid. A canoe costume would be incredibly apt.
I had expected a Cagligulian orgy of lycra, leather, skin and paint. I expected legs, chests and buttocks to be on display with a floor slick with vomit and beer and sweat. I expected a writhing horde of drunk, tanned youth to be fucking each other while leering older men in Hawaiian shirts looked on, hoping their wives wouldn't find out.
I was partly disappointed.
Lines for the beer were deep. Lines for the water didn't exist. People walking into you actually said sorry. To be honest I've seen more feral people on a fairground ride at a Big Day Out. Because this is what might surprise those who haven't been to the Sevens, the munters have fun. The whole thing begins to feel like a wine festival with fireworks, body paint and terrible wine.
The stadium is split in two. The sunny side and the shady side (east and west). In the heat you drink more. This makes it the feral side. If you made it through the tunnel entrance you might be lucky. It helps to be drunk over there.
Girls in short skirts, guy with no shirts, furry animal costumes. It's a great combination.
But even there it's still high spirits. Every time the music comes on there's dancing. The shittiest pop song with a good beat is still something you can dance to. And nobody tires of it. Team allegiances are selected at random. Australia plays South Africa and both teams are booed and cheered in equal amounts.
The noise and the sweat and the laughing and dancing and the drinking and the cheering and the sport... I'm actually having fun! Sure the munters are munters but they're having a great time. And it's more like a usual night out, you avoid the idiots and move with the crowds.
It's the easiest way to be a chameleon: get drunk and smile a lot. But as much as the munters are not as bad as I thought, there is still vomit, blood and sleeping drunks being hosed off the pavement the next morning.
The Sevens: Part 2
If the party gets dull you can watch the rugby. That is large fallacy.
The game is interesting. And as I mentioned before, you'll randomly find yourself attached to one of the teams. We were cheering for Fiji in the final simply because we were surrounded by Fijians.
And it's a game designed for cheering. It's all scoring and kicking and running. And the players love it. I spoke to South African coach and he said that New Zealand was one of the best venues on the Sevens circuit because no matter how much of a party it is the fans still know about rugby.
We are "the" rugby nation after all. Hong Kong, Dubai etc, they are fun tournaments, but to be able to walk the streets and have intelligent conversations about rugby with fans on the street and be able to talk to other coaches about coaching is what the athletes and coaching staff love.
Will it, should it, move away from Wellington? No! No! No! We have the geography and the stadium placement to make the event something for the entire city. I just can't see how it would work in either Auckland or Dunedin. It seems the organisers don't think much of the idea to move either.
Party Zone is Courtenay Pl, it doesn't matter if you're a drunk looking to score or just after a nice martini you go to the same place. Where is that in Auckland?