Lapa in Rio
Rio is a multi-faceted city. Certainly tourism and the beach are clearly marked with Carnaval being a mix of native culture and a bit of tourism. Lapa on the other hand is a facet that makes Rio a party city like no other. São Paulo doesn't party like Lapa. No American city could possibly party like Lapa. Since I took no photos (because I was trying to enjoy the party instead of documenting it) I will try to describe it. Start with multiple crowds of people in the street. They are blocking off the streets around Lapa's main attraction, Arcos da Lapa, an aqueduct made in the 18th century (1780s). Take floats playing music. Then add twenty or thirty clubs that are packed to capacity and have long lines. Then play Brazilian funk in a party that it so packed that it's instantly claustrophobic. Then add hundreds of beer vendors on the street selling beer for approx $2 USD. This wasn't the bloco, but it was partially caused by it. The bloco was much larger and went down Rua Rio Branco.
Beyond Lapa, there is the party that spans all neighborhoods. This is not a public party and it isn't specific to Rio. It's smaller in São Paulo but exists there as well. Wherever there is a good bar, people around gather and have a party. In typical Brazilian fashion, everyone knows everyone else in their clique and outsiders can only get in by meeting someone. Once they've verified that you are cool and not a gringo, you're in. In my case, they verified that I was a gringo but not just a stupid tourist. How does that happen? I am writing an extensive essay on the strengths and weaknesses of Brazilian social networks from the point of view of a novice Brazilian Portuguese speaker. I haven't gotten conclusive results and examples, but it will be an interesting read.
But more to the point, what did I actually do in Lapa? My friend and I met and talked with some cool people. There were a pair of college students who were really nice and went to Lapa to enjoy themselves. There were the pair of girls who were really interested in my friend and me. One spoke Japanese, so I talked with her for a bit. I forgot all my Japanese on the spot though. Similarly later in the night, a girl asked me to sing and I forgot all the songs I know. Wouldn't it have been cool if I had sang "I'm an alligator, I'm a mama papa coming for you, I'm the space invader, I'll be a rock 'n rolling bitch for you. Keep your mouth shut. You're squawking like a big monkey bird and I'm bustin' out my brains for the words. Take me baby, make me know you really care, make me jump into the air. Keep your electric eye on me babe. Put your raygun to my head. Press your space face close to mine love. Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah." -- Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars "Moonage Daydream". Of course I forgot it. Instead I sang a few lines from Frank Sinatra's "You brought a new kind of love to me" and Gilberto Gil's "Oslodum". I taught myself these songs when someone asked me to sing last year and I blanked. Of course I completely failed to sing in tune because I was a bit drunk. But we talked for a bit about rock, what types of things we were interested in. My Brazilian Portuguese may be awful, but I can ask and answer dozens of interesting questions. If you've ever played 20 questions, you know that by the end, you know the person a bit too well. Let's play shall we?
The green text below contains hover text with the Brazilian Portuguese translation.
- Do you like rock music?
- What type of music do you listen to?
- Do you like the beach?
- Are you a student?
- What is your name?
- Do you use Facebook?
- What do you do in your free time?
- What are your interests?
- Are you going to the bloco?
- Do you like riding a bike?
- Do you play a musical instrument?
- Are you tired?
- Are you single/married?
- Am I bothering you?
- Would you like a drink?
- Has anyone ever told you that you have a beautiful smile? *
- Do you like to read?
- Can you recommend a good restaurant near here?
- What is your phone number?
- Why did the chicken cross the road?
* Obvious and cheezy pickup line will work sometimes.