Over the past nine years, the slab of concrete located at the intersecting streets of Duval and Bryan has evolved beyond spotty sectors of tailgaters, blossoming into hordes of rabid, teal-blooded Jaguars fans. Home to both the Teal Street Hooligans and Bold City Brigade, the landscape would be unrecognizable to the few who used to pull up to the forgotten Tailgaters lot years before. From disposable grills and coolers full of cheap, light beer, to custom canopy tents and seemingly endless kegs of craft beer, the slab has gone through quite the transformation.
Throughout it all however, one tradition has remained the same; unifying Jaguars fans, while also bolstering their own identity through The Circle Up.
What originally began with a dozen or so people in a barren lot has grown into a spectacle that can now be seen as you make your way over the Matthews Bridge on game day. The reputation of The Circle Up now precedes itself, and in many ways can be credited as the main contributing factor to the creation of the Teal Street Hooligans back in 2007.
As the crowds of Jaguars fans file their cars away into their designated parking spots, they gather at the slab as the anticipation builds. The que of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” roaring over the PA speakers is met by shouts of “Circle Up!” that signify the 30-minute interval on which The Circle Up’s run has come.
More and more people begin to congregate with canned beer in hand, shoulder-to-shoulder, while allowing others to jump in as they please. As the crowd settles in, the cans begin to be slightly punctured, readied to be snapped open and downed in mere seconds. Once the circle is filled, tightened and reorganized a few times, self-appointed “runners” move inside the circle and into position.
As the countdown from three is complete, the circle and surrounding crowd let out a ferocious chant of “Ohs!” and holding them in unison, as the runners jog inside of the circle, hands extended to be greeted by those bordering them. After a few rotations, the runners unite in the middle of the circle, and together everyone chants, “J-A-G-U-A-R-S! JAGUARS!” Then they immediately swing back their heads and shotgun their beers in unison.
The short silence is broken by the clanking of cans ricocheting off the ground, followed by some gasping for a breath, while others continue with chants. With that, The Circle Up is complete, yet armed for another round in only a half hour.
The idea of a circle of people drinking beer is a simple one, but it’s one that brings people closer together than any social setting. The idea that a circle is an everlasting symbol of camaraderie, something that can never be broken, yet always expanded, is the tradition that is carried out by Jaguars fans every 30 minutes at the slab on game day.
By Jason Caruso | Contributor