Brazilians like to party. It is said in Brazil that although people don’t make a lot of money, there always seems to be enough for one to go out to have fun, or at least to share a couple of Skols at the local bar. The Brazilian word for party is balada, or festa, but these are very general terms that need to be broken down. In Brazil, there are as many kinds of parties as there is music, and each has its own distinguishing features.
What is a baile funk, a micareta or a pagode? Read this post and you will find out.
To understand a baile funk, one must first understand what Brazilian funk means. Funk, or “funk carioca” is a musical style that originated in Rio de Janeiro, or more precisely, in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. (By the way, in Portuguese, the word “carioca” is used to refer to someone from Rio.) Despite the name, Brazilian funk (pronounced “funky” in Portuguese,) is different from the funk music genre originating in the US during the ’60s. Much different. Brazilian funk music was directly influenced by Miami Bass and freestyling. I’m not sure how exactly it developed (somebody listened to a lot of Miami bass and late-’80s MTV and decided that both of them were on the right track but nowhere near in-your-face enough); Traditional Brazilian funk is pretty dirty and explicit in its lyrics, and at times politically oriented, talking about corruption and so forth. Either way, the distinguishing feature of funk is its sound-clashing “favela booty base” beat, it just begs to be danced to in the most animal ways possible:
Funk is a violent collision of Miami bass-style breaks and percussive Latin rhythms sourced from samba. Mashed together under the weight of one-fingered synth riffs and local rappers’ boastful chants, this is a ghetto form that simultaneously documents and transcends the horrific conditions in Rio’s slums. To North American ears, what’s perhaps most shocking about this music is how seemingly mismatched are its components — whether it’s samba drums paired with archaic drum machines, wobbly accordion riffs laid over plodding synth refrains, or a band of rowdy carousers howling over familiar pop samples. The term “baile funk” is used to refer to the parties, or outdoor clubs that play funk carioca. Baile just means party. Here’s a clip from a documentary on Baile funk in Rio:
And here’s a clip from my personal favorite Brazilian Funk mix of all time – “Favela on Blast” by Diplo. (The original track is 30 min. long, so this is just part of it…)
Baile funk parties are featured in many famous Brazilian movies set in the favelas, such as Tropa de Elite and Cidade de Deus. Baile funk parties are generally known to be dangerous places to be. First of all, they are in the favelas, so you will have to venture into the favela to go to a real baile funk party. If you are a gringo, you should probably know someone who lives in the favela before you attempt prancing in there on your own, preferably someone who does not have any enemies. Usually baile funks are organized and paid for by the traficantes, the drug dealing rings that rule the favelas, hence the young boys waiving their ak-47s in the air to the beat emanating from the giant wall of speakers. Due to the attendance of drug lords and other wanted members of society, baile funk parties have been known to be targets for police raids which turn violent very quickly and generally produce many innocent casualties. But if that doesn’t happen, you’re in for a very fun and raw Brazilian experience.
Here’s the scene where the police raid the baile funk in Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite):
And here’s the famous baile funk scene from City of God (Cidade de Deus):
What’s a micareta? A micareta is like a mini-carnaval, it’s like carnaval out of carnaval season. The rules about blocos, camarotes and abadas of carnaval also apply to micaretas. Micaretas take place in many cities all over Brazil, both large and small, but there are a few notable micaretas. The three largest micaretas in Brazil are:
1) Carnatal – takes place in December during Christmas time (natal in portuguese) in the (appropriately named) city of Natal in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. This 4-day micareta has attracted more than 1 million people a year since 1991.
2) The Pré-Caju - takes place in January in Aracaju, in the Brazilian state Sergipe. In the four days this micareta runs, it attracts over 800 thousand people. This micareta is known nationwide for its variety of blocos and attractions.
3) Fortal – takes place in July in the capital city Fortaleza, in the Brazilian state Ceará. This micareta attracts a crowd of around 700 thousand per year.
The picture below is of Carnatal.
Micaretas are traditionally festas de axé, axé being the style of music that is traditional to the state of Bahia, also known as the music of Carnaval.
One of the principle reasons for the realization of micaretas is economic – micaretas are a way for the axé artists who perform and the owners of trios elétricos to make some extra cash during the off-season. There is also something called a “micareta fechada” which is an indoor micareta…there are a lot of these in Sao Paulo.
A rave in Brazil is like a rave anywhere else. In Portuguese, the word rave is pronounced “hay-vee.” There are legions of electronic and house music fans all over Brazil who attend raves. One thing that may be different about raves in Brazil is that the best ones are often located outside of the big cities, like a 2 hour bus ride away. I don’t know why this is, but it’s probably due to the fact that it’s cheaper to build a big, extremely loud club for thousands of people out in the middle of nowhere, “na meia de nada” as it’s said in Portuguese. Raves in Brazil go all night, until after sunrise, or all day, until after sunset…and sometimes they are held on the beach.
Here’s a venue that I’ve been to called “Warung” which is a rave in the middle of nowhere (literally…look at the surroundings, I wasn’t kidding…) in the state of Santa Catarina…
One of the funnest nights of my life…
What is pagode? Well, the word pagode, in Portuguese is commonly used as a synonym for samba music. Although, in reality, pagode is a sub-genre of samba, which originated in Rio de Janeiro in the 1980′s, and it incorporates 3 additional instruments – the banjo, tan-tan, and the repique de mão. The tan-tan is a small hand drum that imitates the sounds of the larger surdos, used in samba baterias, or percussion ensembles. The repique de mão, is another percussion instrument, which imitates the sounds of drums. All of these were introduced by one of the components of the traditional pagode band, Grupo Fundo de Quintal. Lyrics-wise, pagode is also different in that the singers use a lot of slang, reflecting how people actually speak on a day-to-day basis. Culturally, this popularized pagode in that it reached all different social classes, making it especially popular in the lower socio-economic classes and outskirts of bigger cities.
One of my favorite pagode artists who epitomizes the definition of “pagode” is Zeca Pagodinho. Here is a clip of one of his most famous songs called “A Verdade“:
The word pagode is also a way of referring to parties where one can dance samba, usually to a live band. More than any of the types of parties that I have listed above, pagode is by far the most laid back. Pagode is a place to get your samba on, wherever that may be. Often bars in Brazil will have a pagode night during the week.
E aí, vamos para o pagode?
Brazilian Portuguese Vocabulary
Here’s some more useful vocabulary for Brazilian nightlife:
boate - nightclub/dance club
balada - nightclub/dance club (used in São Paulo and to clubs that play techno)
bar/barzinho - bar/pub
boteco/botequim - pub/neighborhood bar (usually with tables outside and food)
entrada/ingresso - cover
gênero - type of music
comanda - card or slip of paper used to keep track of your tab
bebida - drink
chope - beer from a tap
cerveja - beer
lata - can
garrafa - bottle
caipirinha - the national drink of Brazil, made with cachaça, sugar, and limes
saideira - this is a cute brazilian word meaning “the last drink,” as in “the last drink before we leave this club”
Think of anything else? Leave your comment below!! Cheers.