Carnival Recap Part 4.

*the days aren’t actually in order, carnival lasts an entire week. I tried to go everyday and take pics, but living directly on a parade route and crashing at a friends place who lives directly on a crazier parade route made it hard. SO, I’m blogging about Carnival in three different installments because honestly, that’s all I remember.*
14 Pelourinho was my favorite neighborhood to experience Carnival in.  The old city is the trademark of Salvador. Cobblestone roads, colonial style houses, people begging for change, white tourists dressed like they’re going to the jungle, all give the feeling of “this definitely was a place that was very important many years ago”.  Today Pelo is known for it’s hippie culture, afro bloco rehearsals and a good place to buy all your souvenirs.  Pelo is for the people, it’s where the locals and the tourist collide. It’s also where Baiana System performed during Carnival. Baiana System makes awesome music. I’m still not sure what genre they’re in. It’s reggae influenced, but also has a pagode sound. It’s great music to smoke and drink to, but also awesome sober. Their live show was nuts. I got all up in the crowd and in the middle of the mosh pit. 5


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Thanks to my press pass I was also able to enjoy free food and drinks at the Camarote, where I made new friends.  24Overall it was a great way to spend Carnival. Although I was initially scared to be walking around with a camera, I was safe.  Nothing too crazy happened, I got to enjoy luxuries that without a press pass I would have had to pay for. Carnival is what you make it. Like anything else in life I guess.

Carnival Recap Part 3.

*the days aren’t actually in order, carnival lasts an entire week. I tried to go everyday and take pics, but living directly on a parade route and crashing at a friends place who lives directly on a crazier parade route made it hard. SO, I’m blogging about Carnival in three different installments because honestly, that’s all I remember.*

 
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oCampo Grande was packed to the brim last Tuesday night.
All of the blocos culminated in the streets. Shuffling feet crushed beer cans as the faint smell of urine wafted in the air. I got to be in the midst of it; surprisingly safe from the street harassment that Carnival is known for when a woman walks unaccompanied. People were really nice, it was a party, as long as you were moving and dancing in the bloco, you were fine. mThere was also a lot of police, who walked through the large crowd like a gang whenever they pleased and searched young black men constantly. jIn fact the only violence I heard about over Carnival was the massacre of 15 young black in Cabula at the hands of the police. More on that story here.

I got to take a few pics on Olodum’s float, unfortunately I was late and only got the tail end of the show. The band members were accommodating and gracious.

k bbI descended the air conditioned float back into the sea of fans and we all swayed down the street. I reached the front of the bloco where the dancers were performing a dance inspired by the last few days of Christ. In keeping with the Ethiopian theme, the dancers were dressed in white robes covered in coptic crosses. They lifted one man in the air as if he were Christ on the cross.

uu It was all very beautiful, but a little strange and AfroDisney as large balloons that read “Petrobras” and “Caixa” (a bank) loomed in the background. rThe media wary American in me is turning my nose up at the blatant and somewhat tacky display of the sponsorship. The practical side of me understands what sponsorship means. But still, watching the dancers dance, and seeing the huge balloons revolve to reveal the name of the oil company that’s sucking the Amazon of it’s oil but also responsible for much of the money that allows this country to develop it’s economy, made me remember how big tourism and “culture” is as an industry. Then I remembered, I’m American. Who am I to judge another country and the way it makes money?

Carnival Recap Part 2.

*the days aren’t actually in order, carnival lasts an entire week. I tried to go everyday and take pics, but living directly on a parade route and crashing at a friends place who lives directly on a crazier parade route made it hard. SO, I’m blogging about Carnival in three different installments because honestly, that’s all I remember.*


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Ilê Aiyê my new favorite afro bloco, aka the realest band on earth, let me on their float at their opening reception. Based in Liberdade, one of the largest and historically black neighborhoods in Salvador, their opening night began with a spiritual ceremony that concluded with the release of doves. Beautiful black faces flanked the float dressed in various African inspired prints. This year’s print featured the faces of prominent figures from history like Katherine Dunham, Stokely Carmicheal, Angela Davis, Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire.

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The afro reggae sound is known for it’s drums and ability to make you sway . There’s this dance that everyone does here;  your shoulders roll forward as your elbows extend while you you step forward or backward to the beat. It only takes one time to see the dance before it becomes the go to move when listening to Ilê Aiyê. The Queen of Ilê Aiyê, (pictured in green) has the awesome job of dancing atop the float as it makes it’s way from Liberdade to Curuzu.  Many songs from Ilê Aiyê are about being black and having pride in said blackness. 15 12

Ilê Aiyê’s opening reception is why I came to Salvador although I didn’t know it before I came. But being in a crowd of beautifully adorned black people of all shades and hues, chanting lyrics from the song Que Bloco E Esse?

“…e somo bem legal. Temos cabelo duro é só no black power”

My personal translation

we are the shit with our hard (kinky/curly) hair, it’s just our black power.*

*my portuguese is beginner at best, but this is my blog so I say what I want.

There was a moment when everyone was just shouting  BEM LEGAL BLACK POWER as we all danced to the drums.

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The singers were gracious, the crowd was drama free and I even made a new friend, shai andrade, the band photographer whose work can be viewed here.  Overall, my night with Ilê Aiyê was the highlight of Carnival for me.

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Carnival Recap Part 1.

*the days aren’t actually in order, carnival lasts an entire week. I tried to go everyday and take pics, but living directly on a parade route and crashing at a friends place who lives directly on a crazier parade route made it hard. SO, I’m blogging about Carnival in three different installments because honestly, that’s all I remember.*

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3Carnival is the largest party in Brazil. Wikipedia says the largest celebration is in Rio, but actually it’s in Salvador. For the entire month of February, Salvador experiences a huge influx of tourists. They fill the stairs of Geronimo on Tuesdays, they take all the seats at Jazz no Mam on Saturday nights, they have all come to see the livest party on Earth, Carnival in Salvador, Bahia. As a tourist turned person who just won’t leave, I can’t lie-the excitement got me caught up as well. After snagging a press pass I hit the streets with my camera. Here are the better shots of the first day.

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Carnival, which is celebrated in many countries all over the world is a direct result of imperialism. Traditionally, Christians and Catholics feasted and partied hard before Lent started on Ash Wednesday. During Lent people abstain from fun and awesome things like meat, wine, chocolate or sex to pay reverence to Christ. However, with the rise in globalization and the boon in the tourism industry, specially of the sex variety, your typically Carnival or Mardi Gras has little to do with the original religious origin. (I’m looking at you Trinidad and Tobago and NOLA)

The coolest part about Salvador’s carnival is how the afro blocos (bands) chose a figure or country to pay homage to. Olodum, one of the largest afro reggae bands in Brasil chose Ethiopia after members of the organization took a trip to the country this past year.  Brazil now has a direct flight route to Ethiopia as well.

1011The music and costumes of Olodum were all inspired by Ethiopia. If you look closely you can see coptic crosses. Ethiopia,  (low key the cradle of human life), is home to the bones of the world’s first human ancestor as well as pieces of the actual cross Christ was hung on.

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Olodum’s’ opening reception premiered the music they would go on to play throughout Carnival as well as  Ethiopian food and drink and an apperance from the Ethiopian ambassador.

bahia.

If Brazil is the picture of a racial paradise then the photographer must be Dali.

Salvador Bahia, Brazil, lauded as a small piece of Africa in the Americas is playfully called “AfroDisney”. It has the largest concentration of African descended people in the Western Hemisphere. Yoruba culture is prevalent but distorted. The Yoruba Orisha Yemanja has an entire festival in her honor yet she is presented with an  african body covered in the skin and hair of a white woman. For an afro centered person like myself, Brasil looked like a place to explore what it means to be black in the America’s through a new perhaps more “authentic” filter. I’m starting to believe that was a very naive thought.

I came because-well maybe that’s the first problem.

I, like many other DVD owners and former film majors, would call “City of God” my favorite movie. I’m now realizing I’m no better than the jerks who move to Baltimore after watching a season of the Wire. I was drawn to the violence. I wanted to study the people. I wanted to compare and contrast struggle.

People from Baltimore, or DetroitNewOrleansComptonTheBronx know the reaction you get when you tell people you’re from Baltimore or DetroitNewOrleansComptonTheBronx. Eyes widen and maybe some are surprised because you aren’t featured in a World Star Hip Hop video or robbing them (at the moment). “The Wire” and “City of God” are great but they still hold a white gaze. Still directed, produced and made by white people for other white people. In other words, their story is just a piece of the pie. I came down here cause I wanted to study a countries recipe. I thought I would be satisfied with just a 3 month visit. It felt like dipping my toe into the cool pool at the 4th of July cookout (the one where people are actually swimming). 3 months wasn’t enough.  I missed my return flight. Too much had happened but also not enough.

Anyway, I came to Brazil cause I was obsessed with something I became familiar with through the media. I stayed cause I thought I fell in love. I’m not leaving just yet, cause I want to figure out why the hell I’m still here.

Glowing Pain

This will be my travel blog, complete with ads, tips, music, mixes, film reviews, pictures, and most of all stories. For all my homies locked down in the 9-5 corporate life, all my soldiers in the struggle with babies hanging from their necks and all my hustlers tryna pay Sallie Mae and hit brunch every weekend. Live through me like I live through yall.

 

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