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Brazzil - Culture - August 2004

Brazil Fever in Manhattan

Brazilian parties have been popping up in various locations
throughout New York City. The latest one is called Samba at The
Gallery and it tries to catch the spirit of Brazil featuring Brazilian
music, food, and other attractions. The club has few Brazilians in
attendance and the crowd is made up of mostly young Manhattanites.

Ernest Barteldes


Picture Just a few months ago, Brazzil ran an article by this writer describing a highly popular forró-themed night that has been taking place for about a year at a small club in New York's Lower East Side.

The demand for Brazilian-influenced events has since grown here. Anyone who appreciates the sounds and colors of Brazil no longer needs to go to a specific Brazilian community or to a club like Greenwich Village's SOB's to find what he or she likes.

Such parties have been popping up in various locations throughout the city. The latest addition to this trend is Samba at The Gallery, an event promoted by Trey Parker of Spicemedia Events.

The event, which begins at around 6:00 PM, attempts to catch the spirit of South America's largest nation featuring music, food, samba and lessons, dance shows and other attractions throughout the night.

The Gallery is located on the ground floor of The Gershwin Hotel in the Flatiron District of Manhattan.

The club, which consists of what was formerly part of the hotel's lobby, was recently converted into a comfortable upscale-looking bar/lounge space. (A personal note: the Gershwin was the first place I stayed in New York—still as a tourist—in the winter of 1999)

The night begins unpretentiously enough: a buffet featuring regional Brazilian delicacies is served on a hot plate for all present. The main dish varies: one night there was a feijoada, while the last time I was there, baião-de-dois—a tasty northeastern recipe consisting of rice, beans and other ingredients was on the menu—and a list of drink specials is listed at the bar.

Meanwhile, DJ Stylus, who specializes in Brazilian music, spins a variety of songs which range from selections from Getz/Gilberto collaborations to samba/funk mixtures and sounds from Escolas de Samba (Samba Clubs).

At around 8 p.m., the dance classes begin in the club's back room. Samba or axé are usually offered first, while salsa takes over until around 10 p.m.

It is quite humorous to see so many Americans, Europeans and Asians trying to pick up basic steps of the various dances. The club has few Brazilians in attendance. The crowd is definitely made up of mostly young Manhattanites.

The night's attractions happen at around 10:30. Two beautiful dancers, wearing skimpy outfits, are brought in by the event's promoter and perform a samba show. Many on the audience ogle at them, and that is just another ingredient of their performance.

The show lasts for about 20 minutes, and then the dancers invite members of the audience to dance with them. On a recent night, I was the first to be pulled onto the dance floor, and made a fool of myself as my two left feet tried to keep up with the dancer.

DJ Stylus keeps it going hot by spinning sambas to dance to, and few people remain seated as the night winds on.

There are also other dance shows not related to anything Brazilian, such as belly dancers and other performers.

Event promoter Trey Parker has told us that he also plans to include live bands and other attractions. "It's a work in progress," he said.

Samba at The Gallery
Wednesdays at The Gallery
27 East 27th Street
New York NY 10016
For more information, log on tohttp://www.spicemedia.net/samba_gallery.html

Ernest Barteldes is an ESL and Portuguese teacher. In addition to that, he is a freelance writer who has regularly been contributing The Greenwich Village Gazette since September 1999. His work has also been published by Brazzil, The Staten Island Advance, The Staten Island Register, The SI Muse, The Villager, GLSSite and other publications. He lives in Staten Island, NY. He can be reached at ebarteldes@yahoo.com.

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