By Sarah Coursey, Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO – This Fourth of July in Rio the Norwegian flag will be proudly paraded from kiosk to kiosk in Zona Sul, from Leblon to Leme. Not to be confused with a blind American patriot, this banner is actually the official symbol of the Scandinavian-flavored event Quiosque-athon 2009. Its coinciding with the U.S. holiday is purely chance, as its pride is not of country but of beer.
The challenge is to drink a chopp (0.2 liters of beer) at approximately forty kiosks. That totals a hefty eight liters, equivalent to eight ‘maas’ glasses at the famous Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
Kim-Andre Kvaernes cooked up the idea in memory of his days at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. While working at the Florida amusement park, the Norwegian MBA student participated in a regular event called ‘Drinking Around the World’. Eleven pavilions around a lagoon, known as the World Showcase, were used as pit stops in a social gathering of employees.
In Rio, Kim-Andre noticed that the open-air, waterfront kiosks of Zona Sul would make a great location for a similar beer-fest. On October 25th, 2008 the first Quiosque-athon was held with the participation of thirty-five people. A mixture of Gringoes and Cariocas, the event lasted thirteen hours, with nine finishing the day. True to stereotype, two-thirds of the winners were Scandinavian.
The Norwegian Gringoes of Rio are for the most part oil and gas employees working for companies that have Petrobras contracts. Many provide equipment for the industry. Some are also in shipping and boat-building. Five is a lucky number for the Nordic country. Norway has the world’s fifth largest merchant fleet and is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter.
Scandinavian Gringoes from other countries include Danes and Swedes, some of whom joined the Quiosque-athon 2008. Kim-Andre reported two fellow students at the MBA program of the Fundacao Getulio Vargas, in Botafogo, who will be joining the festivities.
The culture of drinking in northern Europe doesn’t really exist in Brazil. Kim-Andre noted, “Brazilians will dance after drinking a cup of water, where we need a few vodkas before we dance.” He also pointed out, “It’s not about the high you get, it’s the social aspect, and it penetrates everyday life. A dinner without alcohol for example, just doesn’t happen, where in Brazil it would be just fine.”
Cultural differences aside, the Quiosque-athon 2009 has already attracted Brazilians and foreigners. The gender ratio has been evenly split as well, dispelling the myth that women don’t like to drink as much as men. So far, the event’s Facebook page has received 85 confirmed participants, 37 who might attend and 107 people who haven’t replied yet.
Enjoying a beer (or two or forty) in the sunshine next to the most beautiful beaches in the world with like-minded people is not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. A few top tips to get you started:
* Buy your chopp glass at Lojas Americanas in a convenient six-pack.
* Bring sunscreen and wear comfortable shoes, as it is a long walk.
* Be sure to follow the Norwegian flag; it is your sign to move kiosks.
* Kiosks physically connected will count as one (as in Copacabana).
* Eat plenty of ‘salgados’, savory snacks sold at kiosks, for energy.
Quiosque-athon 2009 starts on Saturday, July 4th at 11AM in Leblon at the very last kiosk before the road curves up towards the hill called ‘Morro Dois Irmais’ (Two Brothers Mountain).