We Are All Riding No Horses | The Miami Beach Polo World Cup
The air around polo is rich. Everyone wants to breath it; the money, the women, the perplexing lack of rap stars all pervasively surrounding our skin with light hued shirts and awful pants trooping amongst the grandstand. I dressed properly for today. Cream-colored small thread count Italian suit, Topsiders, white shirt, white tie, plaid Kangol. It wasn’t long before my hopes were confirmed. This was a completely ridiculous outfit. Sideways snickering glances and cynically unannounced amateur photographers polka dotting the scene at the Eighth Annual Miami Beach Polo World Cup. The whole atmosphere was oft smoothed, however, by the presence of a Beach Zamboni, which must be Poseidon’s beautiful land-based clunker loaner.
The picture was almost dramatic on the beach, with crashing white foam framed by drastic wind and sharp rain. All along the walk up were the horses and their shit, piles of the stuff, fantastically mixing with the salty bloom of the Atlantic. It didn’t effect the overall scent much other than adding hilarity to the setting. There’s no grace in shit. And to quickly avoid, people were rocking a strong strut towards the open bar. Lord were there people. People people people. These were the alive beautiful thirsty people, according to themselves.
Now might be a time to familiarize yourself with the Portsmouth Sinfonia. Formed in 1970 by a group of British students, entry was only allowed to non-musicians, or musicians who had no prior skill with the instrument that they were to play. They focused on the classics, time trusted pieces of Western music loved and known by all. Gavin Bryars was a founder, Brian Eno played, Michael Nyman was there somewhere. The product is somewhat haunting, ultimately not that good, but most importantly completely hilarious. The players don’t know how to play. Silly stuff. And they played the William Tell Overture! The horsiest of horse songs. Hi ho Silver! Away!
The Portsmouth Sinfonia couldn’t be a more apt metaphor for the crowd at the Miami Beach Polo soiree. The people were there. These people. There were men AND women. The women, were mostly beautiful, but there was a depressing dearth of really large hats. The men had style, collectively, which is rare for a group of men, but it was terrible style as any gobber knows pastels are the closest tone to vomit.
My compatriot and I got into a couple of funny conversations, one with a plaid pants’ed fellow who said he had been going to the event for 8 years and the crowd was getting less classy. I thought about this long and hard, stroked my classy mustache and considered the fact as presented. Was it ever classy? A man, who I can only assume went by the moniker DJ Polo, was playing aggressively loud Techno in between chuckers. Everyone knows Techno between chuckers is not a classy look. A “chucker”, according to the pedagogical Brit announcing, “is an old Asian Indian word meaning ‘period of play’”. That’s it. NO ONE here knows what the fuck is going on in the actual game of polo. There’s horses and sticks and I also just overheard the Brit say “the head of the mallet will not get tangled with the long flowing tail” which gave us all (me) a collective (solitary) boner.
The game itself was like a bar TV on mute. The people that seemed to care only got caught noticeably caring once or twice. Polo is a timeless classic, but on Miami Beach it was just like the Portsmouth Sinfonia. The collective didn’t know what they were doing being an audience at a Polo match. The most recognizable team was a car, then a booze brand, and cock it all if fifteen percent of these people knew anything at all about the rules. I didn’t. And still don’t. It was difficult to understand. Thick with excess and cluttered.
I could suggest a couple of additions to the sport to make it more entertaining for the layperson. Quicksand, though obvious, should be reckoned. People love quicksand. There would need to be helicopters for equine extraction, as no animals should be harmed. I thought too that an extra horse with no rider would make things a bit more fiery. Just to be sort of loutishly in the way. A push and a bump. Totally legal. Steering.
At one point we were also introduced to someone later described as “the number one Polo player in America”. Though it must be, I resisted the fact that this was a even a viable concept. Perhaps my unbeknownst inner child abandoned in the dark forest of Anglo-Saxony might have been in awe. But who fucking cares, right? Not these people. No sir. They don’t even get the irony of it all. They could never play in the Portsmouth Sinfonia. Couldn’t even blow an oboe. But that’s exactly what they were doing. Right there, in the Miami sun, we abutted absurdity. We all sat with polo on in the background. We drank top shelf vodka and laughed at our own jokes. Playing an instrument we never learned.
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