Melrose Arch Fan Park

Melrose Arch Fan Park

As much as I dislike Melrose Arch on principle (it is enclosed and sterile, divorced from the energy of the city, an island of obscene extravagance that perpetuates the wealth inequality that characterizes Joburg and South Africa, just another soulless mall masquerading as a European street experience), I have almost warmed up to it as a World Cup watching venue.

The truth is, in the sprawl that is Johannesburg, it is unusual to find one place that manages to pull in a critical mass of people. So arriving at the arch and seeing thousands of people clamoring for seats or standing room, does at least give you the sense of being part of the hype and excitement of the World Cup. The arch has 2 big screens, one in the square near JB's and the other at the courtyard outside Tash's at the new part of the development. Even though I was there to watch Argentina beat Greece, most of the fans seemed to be Mexicans celebrating their passage to the second round of the tournament, despite losing 1-0 to Uruguay earlier in the day. After the Argentina game, the courtyard where I was watching turned into a Mexican fiesta with sombrero's, poncho's, wrestling masks, and of course tequila.

The arch is likely catering for the Mexican crowd because a traditional Mexican band came on stage to add to the theme.

So while the arch does not feel like an authentic Joburg environment to watch the World Cup, it is a fun place to party with local and foreign fans.

by Yoni Balkind
Argentina vs Greece at the Melrose Arch Fan Park