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Best Place To Drink, Smoke, And Bet On A Sport That Few People Understand Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 1999 - Dania Jai-Alai

It's Tuesday night at the fronton. The elaborately costumed players -- with names like Andonegui, Lertxundi, and, our favorite, Homero -- parade out to center stage and wave their cestas to the crowd, signaling the commencement of the evening's matches. We're parked in the front row with a cigarette and a $2.95, 16-plus-ounce Budweiser wondering how we ended up at a place called a "fronton" watching a game involving "cestas." Even more so, we're contemplating how this strange Basque game was transformed into a staple of South Florida culture. But in this Huizenga-owned sports era of $6 stadium drafts, gestapo-enforced nonsmoking areas, and arenas designed primarily as playgrounds for corporate executives, we appreciate the casual scruffiness of Dania Jai-Alai. Even if we do have to watch a game that -- as best we can figure -- is just a souped-up version of racquetball. Perhaps we're missing something. We'll try to figure out the betting next.

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