Passinho: The dance craze coming out of Rio’s favelas

Dancers show off steps of the "passinho", a new dance step that's taken over the favelas of Rio
Dancers show off steps of the “passinho”, a new dance step that’s taken over the favelas of Rio

Note from BW of Brazil: Poor people of color always seem to up with creative new means to express themselves.  Out of the slums of Rio de Janeiro comes yet another form of this creativity that has caught fire in poor, primarily black communities. In the spirit of Capoeira, Breakdancing, Hip Hop and Funk Carioca comes the “passinho”. It may remind you of other dance crazes of the past few decades, but its got its own flava. Check it out! 

by Julia Carneiro


Brazil may be best known for the samba, but a new dance – fuelled by YouTube and social media – is emerging from the favelas.

Passinho, or “little step”, is a hybrid of pop, funk and break-dancing combined with traditional Brazilian styles such as samba, pagode and frevo.


This spring, a series of competitions has been held in Rio de Janeiro’s sprawling shanty towns where drug dealers and violent gangs once ruled. Dancing duels lasting just 45 seconds pit one young man against another in front of large crowds.

One of those hoping his dance skills will get him and his family out of the favela, is 20-year-old Pablo Henrique Machado or “Pablinho”.

Pablo Henrique Machado, “Pablinho”: A "King" of the "passinho"
Pablo Henrique Machado, “Pablinho”: A “King” of the “passinho”

The BBC’s Julia Carneiro followed the self-styled King of Passinho for a day.

The so-called “Batalha do Passinho (Battle of the little step)”, a competition that featured “passinho” dancers showing off their best steps, had 722 entries and R$900,000 (about US$440,000) in sponsorships for the finals on the Globo TV variety show, Caldeirão do Huck on May 18th.

Two "passinho" dancers
Two “passinho” dancers

As the BBC-produced video below shows, the meaning of “passinho” goes beyond the dance floor. In the 1990s’ and in 2000s, many youth saw drug trafficking as a means out of poverty, a lifestyle that led to countless casualties in the periphery (outskirts/favelas) of Rio. In the “passinho”, youth have found a new inspiration and hobby that’s not so dangerous. See the BBC report below (in English) and the video samples of the new dance. Other dance videos all in Portuguese.

Rio Passinho Dance Craze

CULTNE – Batalha do Passinho 2013 – Parque Madureira

‘Passinho’ é novo fenômeno cultural do Rio; dança mistura frevo e capoeira

Mc Sabará – Rei do Passinho [ 1080p – HD ] (Vídeo Clip Oficial)

Bonde do Passinho – Envolvência e quebradeira (Clipe Oficial)

Source: BBC, Folha

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. Its good to see such variety in BRazil. I hope Brazil does not fall into the American trap and develop an overwhelming, corporate pushed “gangsta” music style that has overshadowed may other worthy styles of American hip hop in recent years.

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