Monday, February 16, 2009

Cambistas

Well as I mentioned in my last post, I went to see Manu Chao last Friday. I found out about the show kind of by accident. Every now and again I like to read the online version of the Salvador newspaper, but it's not a regular event, it happens pretty randomly. So I just so happened to look at the website last week and saw that Manu Chao would be coming to Salvador and that the show would be a "trade your receipts for a ticket" show. Apparently this has gone on in the past and now they are bringing this phenomenon back.

I was so happy to see that he was coming and that he would be here when my American friend would also be in town visiting. I've been a fan of Manu Chao for several years, but have never seen him play as he doesn't come to the US that often. I immediately started collecting receipts so that I would have enough and then also went about finding out information as to where I had to go and get the tickets.

The receipt collecting was kind of hilarious in and of itself. I started in our house, hunting through old grocery store bags. The receipts could be from any store and in any amount, it just had to say "Cupon fiscal" on it. After exhausting the house supply, I then went down to the little market and pharmacy near my house to see if they had any old receipts lying around that folks had left behind. I scored a few at both places, and also found some on the ground. Several visits later, I had 40 receipts...enough for 4 tickets.

The day the tickets were going to be released came and Vilma went to the mall to wait in line. She got there around 9AM and the line was already super long, extending out of the parking garage! She patiently waited until about 11AM when I arrived. I ended up cancelling a couple of my classes so that I could stay there, and she had to leave at 1:30PM to go to the dentist. I finally made it to the front of the line and scored 2 tickets at about 3PM.

Let me say that the line situation was rather organized, but odd. The main part of the line extended from one door, around the parking garage and then outside. When you got to the front of this line, you were then sent to a second, shorter line that led up to the ticket window. There were three tellers in the ticket window. Two were dealing with the "regular" line, and one was dealing with the "old people" line. It's common in Brazil that banks, grocery stores, and other establishments that have lines have a "fila de idosos", or "old people line". And sure enough they had one for this show too. Needless to say, the line moved VERY slowly, although when I got up to the front it seemed to go more quickly.

A word about the old people line. In this situation, the name of this line should have been the "old people and other random people who were getting paid by the scalpers plus the scalpers themselves line". Vilma told me that the scalpers either had friends who were the security guys, or they paid the security guys, or both for the privilege of using this line. At one point there was actually a fight when a guy from the normal line saw all the shadiness going on with the scalpers using the old people line, got mad, and tried to fight the scalpers and security. He got put in his place and things just continued on as they were, with the Manu Chao fans waiting hours while the scalpers just sat back and collected tickets that they would later sell for R$30-50 each.

At one point I went up to the front to check out the scene and saw a line of about 10 old people who I'm sure had absolutely no idea who Manu Chao is, waiting patiently for their turn. Then there was a line of scalpers, or "cambistas" in Portuguese, waiting to receive the tickets from them after they got to the front.

Was all of this worth it? Well, I loved the show and had a great time. The music rocked and the crowd was really fun. But I couldn't help but look around a couple of times, note the huge number of people there and think of how much money those cambistas made on the tickets that were basically free. And yes, I did see one older guy there, but the rest of the "idosos" were nowhere to be seen.

2 comments:

Leo said...

I got to the show late.

I was ill prepared.

I payed R$40 for a ticket.

Yes, I was pissed. But at the same time, it was a small price to pay for seeing Manu Chao. And who can blame the scalpers for being good business men.

Pedra said...

It's true about the cambistas. They made a killing!

Glad you got in to see the show. It was worth it :)