SAO PAULO – It's not simple to stand out during the World Cup in Brazilian stadiums carpeted by yellow and green. But along the edges of a dam in the southern part of Sao Paulo, Dutch soccer fans have built a camp for 500 people, creating a spot where orange is the new yellow.
They sunbathe in orange sunglasses and dry themselves with orange towels. All over the sports center-turned-tent site, they have hung orange jackets, T-shirts and even briefs. Some of the most committed fans drove their cars, also orange, from as far away as New York to make it to the fluorescent celebration.
"Orange is the color of the national team," said Juul Ophelders, explaining why she dyed her hair orange for soccer's biggest tournament. "It was a little bit nicer but the water is different here, so it's lighter now."
Color is a statement for the Dutch fans camping by the Guarapiranga dam in the southern part of Sao Paulo. More than 400 of them will be heading for the team's final group match against Chile on Monday at Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo.
"It has to be orange if you want to join the party," said Laurens Kraal, who drove with seven other fans from Bolivia in an orange hippie van. "It feels Dutch."
There are dozens of small tents where fans share space and sleep on air mattresses. Other tents are made of a thicker material and are spacious enough for bunk beds.
On Sunday, a young man played soccer wearing orange overalls with a soccer-ball pattern. Women sipped their caipirinhas after toasting with hands manicured with orange nail polish. A sign read "Orange Heart. Yellow Soul," signaling the visit in tropical Brazil where yellow shirts dominate.
Some feel orange helps show unity for the Dutch team, which has often come close in the World Cup, only to painfully lose in the finals.
"It's our fate to be second. But then when you are second, you always have a goal. We keep having a goal — to become world champions," said Michel van Baarle.
In another sign of togetherness, 50 of the fans dove into a swimming pool Sunday afternoon at the same time with orange beanies, a New Year's tradition that usually takes place in the ocean.
Does it bring good luck?
"It's just us being crazy. That's pretty much it," said Tim van Beukering. "We enjoy it."
Adriana Gomez Licon on Twitter: http://twitter.com/agomezlicon