For the victors, the beat goes on ... and on ... and on

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The Independent Online

What was amazing about the Brazilian bar was it was so Brazilian.

What was amazing about the Brazilian bar was it was so Brazilian. As you entered the Bar Salsa in Charing Cross Road you were handed a pair of maracas and a whistle, and I wondered why English pubs showing the game couldn't do the equivalent and give all the supporters a pair of spoons.

And straight away everyone was dancing. Brazilians are even Brazilian at seven in the morning. For a moment the salsa beat thumped in time to Alan Hansen's hand gestures on the giant screen, and they carried on dancing right up to the kick-off.

They even danced to their national anthem, which may be the difference between the two nations; it being physically impossible to dance to God Save The Queen.

The one exception was when the camera focused on Beckham and the beat paused, to be replaced with a playful-ish jeer. "Ha ha," said Ricky, who stood next to me draped in the Brazil colours, "these girls may boo but they all want to marry him".

Then Michael Owen scored. Hundreds of faces bobbed and twitched with the anxious expressions of passengers on a plane during heavy turbulence. The room spluttered with a sense of "I'm sure it's going to be all right – isn't it?"

More distraught was a woman behind me waving her arms and pulling her long black hair, screaming and jumping little steps with both feet, her eyes watering with desperation and looking like someone on a news report from a war zone whose house has just been demolished.

Even though the room was so packed, the tension at the start of the second half was so great that no one could stand still, so everyone seemed to change place once a minute. Until that looping free-kick that will have David Seaman on a couch at the age of 70 while a shrink says: "You've got to try to let go of the guilt, David."

Now the confidence was restored to normal proportions, only stalling for a moment when Ronaldinho was sent off. At that point a chant thundered round the room, clearly directed at the referee, comprising five or six Portuguese words in about 15 syllables. "What are you chanting?" I asked Claeton. "Cheat," he told me, before adding: "See, on those stairs, such beautiful girls."

From then on flowed the rumbling certainty of imminent victory as England fizzled away. Just after the final whistle a Scotsman peered straight into my eyes and said "I had a tenner on Owen scoring first and Brazil winning 3-1, so I'm gutted." Then he left the perfect comic pause and yelled " But not as gutted as you ... haaaaa."

And then everyone resumed the dancing. I asked five people what would have happened if Brazil had lost and they all said, "We would have danced and had a party anyway," which I'm not sure is accurate.

Colin, a Londoner clad in Brazilian yellow, grabbed me at the bar. "Here mate, you're a comedian, come and cheer up my mate Tony," he said.

And between us we agreed that it was better to lose like this than like the Irish, who seemed to think that because they've often felt they'd be better off moving to a different country, their penalties might be better off booted into another country as well.

Colin needed no cheering up at all. He's about to get Brazilian citizenship, and as his Brazilian wife rang from Sao Paolo, he related the phone call. "She says bad luck England." Then he added: "My mother-in-law also says bad luck England."

Then he told us his father-in-law was coming on, but couldn't speak a word of English. A couple of seconds later Colin had evidently bridged the language gap. "He says Beckham is wanker."

"Oh well, bollocks," said Tony, as he picked up his maracas and went to have a dance.

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