Category Archives: Sports

My first “faux” flash mob in Madrid

The Flash Mob is an American-originated concept that’s made its way over to Spain, similar to other things I’ve written about (like Black Friday, Running Strollers, Babies R Us, etc.). Here they even have customized versions such as the “Flamenco flash mobs” (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22110887). The general gist, as you’re probably familiar with, is a large group of people coming together suddenly in a public place to perform a coordinated act or dance for a brief time and then quickly dispersing. Keep this in mind as you keep reading.

Yesterday I participated in my first flash mob here in Madrid – or what I thought was going to be my first flash mob… Let me back up for a minute: a few days ago I was in the Corte Ingles picking up my dorsal for my last 10k race of the season. As I was waiting in line, a cheerful cheerleader-like girl approached a group of us to announce that a dance group called SLS Dance was organizing the first flash mob in a large sporting event in Spain. Intrigued, I logged onto the web site back at home and found the choreographed dance that I would have to learn to participate, to Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailando” no less. I figured, “Well, I’ve never been in a flash mob before, so why not?”

By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I was pretty pumped for the upcoming mob, actually moreso than for the 10k race that would follow. To my surprise, as my friend and I were at the starting line, the same girl who I had seen the other day at the Corte Ingles announced to the crowd over the loudspeaker that in one minute we would all be performing the first sporting event flash mob in Spain. Fifty seconds later she proceeded to start a 10-second countdown.

Wait a minute – since when do you announce a flash mob over a loudspeaker and have a countdown? I also don’t recall flash mobs having people on stages showing the dance to the crowd….So, A for effort for the dance group wanting to organize a flash mob, but downgraded in the actual execution part. I think we need to recognize it for what it was: an organized dance.

In any case, there were two positive outcomes from this faux flash mob experience for me:

  1. I started off the race in a good mood after dancing with the crowd and set a personal record.
  2. I’m determined to take part one day in a real flash mob so that I can really check it off my list.

Overall it was an amusing experience. Hey, I guess any import takes a little bit of time and tweaking to get it right 😉

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SuperBowl 2015 Win Spain news

Fútbol y Fútbol OR Football, Basketball, Hockey and Baseball: A reflection on cultural imports

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday.

When I lived in the US this was a BIG day, especially if your local team made it to the final round. This involved parties with dips, drinks, people, big screen TVs and lots of shouting. Here in Spain the Super Bowl is known since it’s such a big event, but I would say it’s more popular for the commercials than the sport itself. I was very excited that my team, the New England Patriots, made it to the Super Bowl this year and was having a bit of nostalgia seeing friends’ posts on Facebook before I went to bed (and sadly missed the game since it started at almost 1am local time). However, I was very happy to wake up this morning and find out that my team had won!

And I was even happier/confused to see this image on the home page of one of the biggest Spain news portals, El Mundo (www.elmundo.es).

SuperBowl 2015 Win Spain news

I had to stop and ask myself, “Since when did a Boston team winning a football game make the front page for Spanish news??” Since Black Friday became popular? Is this a case of American-isms being imported into Spain? 

Here in Spain soccer (fútbol) rules. Plain and simple. At first I just was amazed at the number of soccer games always on TV, but then I got used to it. And I actually started to like it. Spain has some fútbol teams including soccer’s Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, but it also boasts amazing athletes like the Gasol brothers (playing in the NBA), Rafa Nadal, Mireia Belmonte García and Fernando Alonso. But, soccer is still the year-round favorite. Clearly this is different from the US where we have four seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall) and four big sports (hockey, baseball, basketball and football). Both countries have very dedicated fan bases, great teams and a huge economic market with their sports.

Once again, I return to my question: “Since when did a Boston team winning a football game make the front page for Spanish news??”. Here are a few US-isms that have been gaining strength in the last 10 years since I crossed the ocean:

  • Halloween: When I studied abroad in Madrid 15 years ago Halloween didn’t exist. I remember my mother visiting during that time and expecting to see costumes. Even Planet Hollywood didn’t have anything. Now the biggest department store The Corte Ingles has entire sections dedicated to Halloween costumes and decorations.
  • Valentine’s Day: a 100% commercial holiday in my opinion and an excuse to sell candy and flowers. I thought I was leaving this behind when I moved but in the last couple of years it has slowly been creeping into the culture here.
  • Black Friday: this started this year. I started seeing ads on TV for big sales on Black Friday (but this was not just on Friday. It was being extended for entire weekends). I really had to wonder if people know that this refers to the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US when there are big sales. I didn’t see any turkeys in the ads…

I’ve just named a few, but I have a feeling there will be more in the future. I’m just waiting for the day when customer service and customer experience importance are imported!

While it put a smile on my face to see my football team on the Spanish news home page, I have to admit that one of the reasons I moved to Spain and one of the things I love about it is the difference in culture, values and attitudes. While some imports are ok, I hope this doesn’t get to be too much where any Spanish cultural event or tradition could be left behind. To put it in other words, the day the Fourth of July comes to Spain is the day I really become worried.