Home >Specials >World Cup 2014 >World Cup turns Sao Paulo into a party zone

Sao Paulo: It’s two in the morning and Monisia Colonario is tired. But she can’t call it a night yet. A street vendor who sells beer and cocktails from the boot of her car, she will be around till at least 4.30am, when the last of the World Cup revellers stagger away from Sao Paulo’s party district Vila Madalena.

Street vendors like Colonario have had an exceptional run since the World Cup started, as thousands of fans from all over the world gather at the cross-roads of Rua Aspicuelta and Rua Mourato Coelho at Vila Madalena for crowded street parties on match days. The parties start well before the match, and usually end early the next morning. With more than a million football fans milling around Sao Paulo for the duration of the World Cup, brisk business is assured.

“It’s been very good since the World Cup started," Colonario says. “On regular days, my daily sales average is between R$600-800. But this past month,I have been making up to R$1,500 a day." She works at Vila Madalena through the year selling drinks at prices lower than the spiffy bars and restaurants. “The fans have been brilliant and I have had a lot of fun interacting with them."

Four carts away from Colonario, Jason Rosa Dos Anjos has a more elaborate set-up and a wider menu. He has a mini-van in which the boot has a mini kitchen. He sells cocktails, beer, hot-dogs, sandwiches, chocolates, mint and gum. Anjos, who moves around the city setting up shop outside football stadiums on game days and also works as a caterer, came to the Vila Madalena party on the third day of the World Cup after he heard about the large gatherings there.

Most restaurants and bars in the area shut around 11.30. “Our business picks up after the bars close. We are there for the party-goers till 5am," Anjos says. “Business has been very good at Vila Madalena during the World Cup. But it is especially brisk on days when Brazil or Argentina play. On good days, I have made as much as R$3,000 in a night."

Cervejaria Patricia, a popular pub on Vila Madalena among the fashionable lot, sells its cheapest beer, a 200ml draught, at $7.50. The average cost of a dish here is R$30. Another popular joint, Bar Posto 6, has similar prices and tables spilling over on to the pavement. Cervejaria Patricia has been screening the football games on a huge screen on the wall facing the street corner. That’s what attracted football fans to this square in the first place. The street vendors followed.

Using Portunyol (a combination of Portuguese and Espanyol) and offering better prices than the established bars, the vendors have managed to keep their customers happy. They sell their beer for R$5—a steal for the revellers.

The party spirit has been pretty high throughout the tournament with about 600,000 international football fans in Brazil at the moment. Large contingents of Colombians, who returned to the World Cup after a 16-year break, Mexicans and Argentinians have been camping in Brazil since the start of the tournament. Thousands of Argentinians are still driving into Sao Paulo ahead of the semifinal clash with the Dutch on Wednesday.

Musicians and dancers show up and start performing out of nowhere, marching bands drum up a beat and pull people to dance along with their troupe. Even Hare Krishna members perform, anyone and everyone to have a go at their bhajans.

On days when Brazil play, the crowds are huge and most vendors have to scramble to re-stock midway through the night. Argentina fans were having such a good time setting off firecrackers and singing loudly the day they beat Switzerland in the knockout game that the Sao Paulo police had to come in and break up the party.

“We love the fans who have been coming here. The atmosphere is brilliant and everyone is having fun. Even we enjoy ourselves," said Agola Dias Souza, Anjos’ business partner. “We sleep during the days and work the nights, same as what the football fans have been doing."

For more stories from Brazil, go towww.livemint.com/worldcup2014-

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