We all use the tailgate of our bakkies when we load stuff and even tie stuff down. Yet years ago an American friend told me about tailgate parties where folk used to get together and park vehicles in a semi-circle and picnic using the tailgates of their vehicles as “tables”.
I was intrigued as on occasion I had used the tailgate of my bakkie to serve coffee and rusks but had never taken it further.
Then one day I went to the Afrikaans High School in Pretoria to watch my son play water polo. The school is near the Loftus Versveld rugby stadium and there was a game there on that day. Now we were there early in the morning yet the car park was full. The school rented the space out for additional funds. Then I saw the local tradition of tailgating. Scores of bakkies were parked and every tailgate was down. Gas braais were aplenty as were cooler boxes and cold drinks.
I spent some time chatting with the locals who were cooking bacon and eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes and generally preparing for the afternoon match.
This was a traditional thing for them, their pregame bash, something unique to Pretoria. These were true “Blue Bulls” fans who valued quality over quantity and the pregame camaraderie.
Good food is one of the main criteria of a pregame bash and it was immediately apparent that rules existed, planning was important and they all knew what to bring so pre-prep work was important. Some brought main meals, and others brought salads and starters. Others brought ice and cold drinks. They all tended to know each other and there was a host every 5 or so cars.
Planning was evident as there was no off-the-shelf food other than crisps or snacks. There were homemade sosaties, marinades and salads. Veggie salads, potato salads, fruit and mushroom kebabs. Gas cookers were in use but some groups favoured charcoal. The die hards stuck to eggs and bacon .
After a quick soak in the marinade, the cooking got going, and the “gees” was palpable.
A wide variety of homemade bread and rolls were on most tailgates and it was a very much”help yourself “ party. The meat was soaked in red wine or beer and cooking was extremely competitive as to who had the best marinades or techniques. It was very apparent that charcoal was preferred to gas, except in the cooking of eggs and bacon. Preferred was bacon bits fried with scrambled eggs served on toast. Chilli sauce abounded and was liberally dispensed by all. Recipes were compared and bottles were swapped. All good homemade stuff. The meat was thawed as they had great disdain for people that arrived with frozen food.
So everyone had an appetiser and drink in hand and the party was on. Some people were even playing mini bowls and cricket with their children or throwing rugby balls at each other.
Drinks were in coolers and fridges and there was tea and coffee on offer as well. Bare in mind, this was early in the morning and the match would only start at around 1600.
I realised that the key to the tailgate party was a playlist with portable speakers. The music was a mix but all enjoyable. Although it’s an American tradition the “Bulls” supporters had taken it to a different level. Many wore blue hard hats which they would take to the game, many also had various horns affixed to the nudge bars and replacement bumpers of their vehicles. I know that fans of the various other rugby teams get together for prematch gatherings but to me, this was taking things to a different level.
Some even arrived with fully kitted trailers with awnings, extra tables and chairs. I think this set-up is unique to “Bulls” supporters but it was a delight to see. On many of my trips, we have dropped tailgates in place of tables simply for expediency. This occasion was the first tailgating party that I had ever experienced and I hope they enjoyed the game.