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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Social Club

The Social Club. Back in the States you might call it the local recreational center.  Maybe it's just me or rather my point of view, but it seems to play a big part in Uruguayan life.

In Seattle, I remember seeing rec. halls in various communities offering special senior citizen gatherings and classes. I remember adjoining playing fields and seeing little league being played while enthusiastic dads and moms rooted for their little ones. I remember during the summer, swim classes being held at the swimming pools of some of those rec. centers. Well, Uruguay does all of that plus adds a social context.

The above picture is of the Club Albatross (like the bird) in the town of Salinas. That town is 1 1/2 kilometers away from my home (in Marindia). In Spanish, it's listed as a Club Social y Deportivo (sports). Every community has such a club. Instead of little league in those adjoining fields soccer is the sport of choice.

Inside the club Albatros (spelled with only one "s") you will find a basketball court as part of a huge room with windows that includes a stage. This center room also has a pass thru counter that connects to a kitchen so that food can be featured at some events. Wally and I have been to this club for an afternoon gathering with an onstage comedy sketch at one time and for a rather odd singing event during another evening. That evening event was when someone was trying to raise some money for a skating (patin, in Spanish) competition. It seems that Uruguay has just, in the last few years, gotten into competitive dance skating (roller skates) and is now encouraging youth groups in this sport/art. I'm sorry that I missed it but last year (3/20/2010) this same club Albatros featured, "Fantasma Opera" (Spanish) or Phantom of the Opera on skates! An exhibition of skating by Prof. Alejandro Martinez skating to a Michael Jackson song and "moon skating" backwards if you know what I mean! I saw the videos on U Tube! I would have liked to have gone that night!

The night we went, the person was raising money to help his group travel to a competition. He claimed to be a singer and sold tickets to his show. I was hoping to see some of the skaters but inside we watched him sing instead. He sang Sinatra songs.Well at least we were able to dance and buy some beer at the event, (Patricia my favorite brand here), so enough said about his singing.

There is also a "piscina" or swimming pool in this building. Even large pools in Uruguay are rather small by North American standards. Most seem to be made out of fiberglass which limits their depth and size. Still a neighborhood pool indoors at that, is not to be snubbed.

Every year, around August 24th there is a countrywide celebration of "Rock and Roll" called the Night of Nostalgia. It's an epic event as big as a "New Years Eve" celebration would be, with advance ticket buying and Rsvp ing. The Club Albatros would be one of the places to go to on that night in Salinas. Many special events and dinner shows are held there. Here is a picture of a typical invitation I found in town advertising the 23rd year anniversary of a 5 town business commercial association.
Cena means dinner in Spanish and this dinner show will have a couple of musical groups playing that night "Old Boys" and the music of the "Kalua"group, Prices are not listed on this invitation but I doubt its more than one or two hundred pesos. Food would probably be pizza or sausage or milanese (a breaded cutlet). You can often buy a piece of spinach torta (pie) for around 30 pesos,

This commercial association is made up of the towns of: Neptuna, Pinamar, Salinas, Marindia, and Fortin De Santa Rosa. If you look on a map, the towns are listed in that order along the highway (west to east).

One of the many classes held in this club has been yoga. Yoga seems to have caught on, big time in Uruguay. It's advertised everywhere. This is not surprising, in a country where the first Spanish word taught to me was "Tranquilo" or calm (for a person), peaceful (for a place) or quiet (for an evening). That's the name we have chosen for our house's name if we can ever afford the sign. When we used to tell people we were moving to Marindia everyone would say in reference to the area Es muy tranquilo (it's very quiet). They tell me, all the time, to be tranquilo. Still others just say that word by itself when they are around me. I tend to be demonstrative, and animated using facial and hand gestures, it's usually too much for most people here so, "tranquilo!"

Many people cry that it's such a shame that this building needs sprucing up but I find the lovely brick building to be in better shape and quality than many of the neighboring community clubs. Marindia also has it's own club near my house. That one is smaller and has a more beach bar shack look to it.

Our "Club Marindia" has advertised summer "movie nights" where they show an old flick on a large screen. Other nights have seen local musical groups playing. I must admit I usually find out or remember these events a day after they have been held but I've seen the flyers stapled on telephone poles around my neighborhood. A lot of my friends live closer to Salinas so I am made more aware of that club's happenings. Inside the Club Marindia is a ping pong table and a few benches. I think some tables can be brought in. I think it has a bathroom (Toilet) However, it's a far cry from the one in Salinas. The saving grace, the redeeming difference for Club Marindia is that it is almost, right on the beach. The Club Albatros sits a little higher up but does have a view of the water as seen in the title picture (on the right).

This summer I will take advantage of Club Marindia more. I want to check out movie night, I hope they will still have those. It's a pleasant walk to that club. I can go there either on the higher dirt road (the rambla) that runs along the coast. Or  I can go on the beach itself as seen in the below picture. Can you see the club's roof on the left?

Those are my two dogs running along the beach. During the week I pretty much have this beach to myself as seen in the emptiness of this photo.

Each social club has it's own special character reflecting it's unique community (mine is beach y). Some are quite sophisticated while others reflect what's important to that town. Whether you are a child, senior citizen, a young dating couple or an old married pair wanting to get out and dance, sooner or later, if you live in Uruguay, you will be in attendance at your local neighborhood sports and social club.

1 comment:

Contra Veta said...

A great informative post Denise. Our 'club' plays an important part of our life HereinUruguay. I'm not sure it has an equivalent in the states.
Still riding that bike?
I didn't catch any info about your husbands trip. When does he return?
Well, nice to hear you have some friends around.
You can mail me direct if you'd like at jdelalla@gmail.