Miami Beach brings rock'n'roll to polo

Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:54am EDT
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By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - Think of polo and the words elitist, snobby and even royal might spring to mind, but when the old sport takes place on Miami's South Beach it is a very different event.

The South Beach setting for the Miami Beach Polo World Cup marks an inevitable break with convention and the result is an event that, at first, had traditionalists shaking their head.

Founder Bruce Orosz got some puzzled reactions, but eventually support, when, seven years ago, he first brought some of the game's top players and their horses on to the South Florida sands.

"The first year, people were somewhat surprised. They said: 'Polo on the beach, what? Huh?' But the traditionalists thought, well Arena Polo has been played at places around the world, this could be really interesting -- so they all turned out," Orosz told Reuters.

While polo tournaments have always been very social occasions, there is a gentile tone to events at traditional clubs, with the gentle sipping of cocktails, elegant but restrained fashion and a generally conservative atmosphere.

When the regulars from the International Polo Club at Wellington, near Palm Beach, made the two-hour drive down the coast to Miami Beach, they found something very different.


"I think they were amazed and surprised. They came down from Palm Beach wearing their scarves and jackets and Ascots (cravats) and then all of a sudden they realized that it was South Beach and there were girls standing on the perimeter in bikinis and other people in shorts and it was a very different kind of experience," said Orosz.   Continued...

<p>(L-R) AMG-Mercedes polo players Michael Liss, Nacho Figueras and Pelon Escapite ride along Miami Beach en route to their first round match in this 2010 handout image. REUTERS/Mitchell Zachs-The Polo Life/Handout</p>