Note from BW of Brazil: Curitiba is the capital city of the southern state of Paraná. It is one of the whitest cities in one of Brazil’s whitest states. Today, about 80% of Curitiba’s population defines itself as branca, or white. But even with the state being one of the whitest in Brazil, of the three southern states that are considered the “European part of Brazil”, Paraná has the largest black population with a full 28% of its citizens defining themselves as preto (black) or pardo (brown), which together is considered Brazil’s black population. The south of Brazil is the region of the country that opened its doors widest to European immigration in the 18th and 19th centuries in an elite desire to whiten a country that they considered “too dark” to ever be considered an advanced nation. And historically, these three states, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul (82% white population) and Santa Catarina (86% white), have long attempted to ignore the presence of its black population and portray the regions as a land of the “Old World” in the tropics.
But even with smaller numbers than other regions of the country, Afro-Brazilians have found ways to make their presence known. Whether it’s marching through the streets for their rights, putting on plays on the essence of black women, or holding events at a black museum, southern blacks are ensuring that their history will never be forgotten as much as the powers that shouldn’t be seen want to erase/ignore their contributions. In the city of Curitiba, a group of young Afro-Brazilians has found an exciting way to celebrate their identity, appreciate their heritage, party and promote the practice of “black money” in their own way. Check the story below about a “Little África” in a mostly white Curitiba…
A Good Dance: music, identity, and black entrepreneurship
In the words of the party’s idealizer, Brenda dos Santos, the Baile is a “little Africa”
By Juliana Cordeiro, with the collaboration of Paula Nishizima
Sociedade Beneficente 13 de Maio, the third oldest black social club in Brazil at the age of 128, becomes the stage for a young man full of energy, music and a lot of political conviction: Um Baile Bom, meaning ‘a good dance’. Arriving at the 21st edition, Baile already had the participation of 18 DJs invited, with an audience of up to 400 people – maximum capacity of the Sociedade (society).
There are three characteristics that mark Um Baile Bom. One of them is musical diversity. There is a variation of rhythms: it begins in samba and ends in rap. The other is the involvement of the audience, regardless of age and degree of familiarity with dance. This feature is evident in the dance battles and chants choreographed by the organization to pull the public to the dance floor. The third major mark is estética negra (black aesthetic), with an affirmation of cabelo afro (afro hair), colorful (ethnic) prints and symbols on clothing that refer to the African continent.
In the words of Brenda dos Santos, cultural producer and idealizer of the initiative, Baile is a “pequena África” (little Africa): “With its diverse peoples united in the same continent. Although in the midst of wars, full of riches and stories to be preserved and retold. It is territory. It will be what we put into it.”
For the choreographer Dayane Paixão, who has been dancing for more than a year, the party generates a sense of welcome. “When I joined the Sociedade 13 de Maio, I started listening to the songs of black music and others. That gave me a lot of comfort. In addition to meeting friends that I had not seen for a long time, I felt at home,” reports Dayane.
The party is a reaffirmation space of the identidade negra (black identity) that acquired political character after the 3rd edition when the organizers saw that the majority of the people who remained outside in line were black. “It was when strategies to access the black community began to be developed. From bonuses that gave priority to entry, to today’s format, which is through anticipated sales,” says the idealizer.
From the lighting to the sale of tickets, throughout the process of putting on the dance there are black pessoas negras (black people).
Today, about 80% of the tickets are distributed to articulators responsible for the sale. They are self-employed professionals and black collectives, who live in peripheral neighborhoods and in the Metropolitan Region of Curitiba. The remaining 20% are available at physical outlets, the internet and at the gate.
The form of income generation of Baile Bom is based on the concept of “Black Money”, a concept that defends the circulation of money among the black community. From the lighting to the sale of tickets, in all areas there are black people: it is the rule instead of the exception. Women have greater decision-making power by virtue of their role in performing the party, such as DJs and producers. The team responsible for playing the party is composed of 17 people, including eight women.
On the day of the Baile, while dancing does not start or pause to catch your breath, you can buy products like turbans, earrings, and necklaces with ethnic prints, or discover other services offered by profissionais negros (black professionals). “We think of strengthening an economia preta (black economy) as one of the forms of emancipation of our people,” explains Brenda dos Santos.
Editing: Ednubia Ghisi
Source: Brasil de Fato
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