C-a-r-n-a-v-a-l. It's the Brazilian word that comes to mind when you think of celebration: street parades, floats, dancing. And Brazilians here are the heartbeat and soul of Carnaval, sharing their dances and music with San Francisco and the world. Their spirit is inspiring and becoming increasingly important in the Bay Area where thousands of Brazilians live.
Ever since seeing the movie Orfeu Negro, Marcel Camus's hauntingly tragic 1959 film that intertwined the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice with the Carnaval of Rio, and starring that enchantingly beautiful actress Marpessa Dawn and the handsome, charismatic actor Breno Mello, I have had a mystical love affair with mythic Brazil. Orfeu Negro meant to me the picturesque beauty of Rio, the joyous explosions of life, music and dancing in hillside favelas, the hypnotic drums of the baterias, and the pain, when you reflect on the crushing poverty of these favelas; and to Brasileiros, Carnaval seemed to have a certain urgency and importance. Ever since seeing Orfeu Negro, Brazil has also been my reflection pool on life my manhã de Carnaval. On the morning after, if you listen closely, in the same way that you can hear the sounds of the sea on a silent seashore, you can hear the layers of samba rhythms that underlie the poetic, soulful, philosophical lamentssongs in Portuguese that penetrate the soul and heartand the words and what they mean.
Here in San Francisco, it is the Sunday before Carnaval, a two-day event that begins with a street festival during the day on Saturday followed by the Carnaval Ball that Saturday night at the Galleria, a beautiful performance space, and culminates in a street parade the next day, Sunday. Featured at the ball this year were the Brazilian All-Stars Big Band, directed by Célia Malheiros with Liza Silva; samba groups Aquarela and Fogo na Roupa and over 50 dancers and singers; and Sueldo Soares and Band from Bahia, featuring Axé making a special guest appearance. "Carnaval Meets Mardi Gras" was the theme and prizes included a trip to Rio and a trip to New Orleans. But some clubs, like Bahia Cabana on Market Street, start celebrating from Friday.
The genesis of Carnaval was the apparent need for San Franciscans to express themselves in dance and music, so in 1979 there was an impromptu festival in Precita Park in the upper Mission (Bernal Heights) in the Mission District. What was just a neighborhood festival later became a street parade from Mission Street to City Hall. This developed into the parade and the festival, now confined exclusively to the Missionstill a predominantly Latino neighborhood despite gentrification and the site of carnavals since 1985but celebrated by thousands of people from all over the Bay Area.
There are two components to Carnaval San Francisco, as it is called: the festival and parade. The festival is the celebration of food and music under the pavilions and in the streets of the designated blocks of the Mission. The parade starts at 24th and Bryant, continues along Mission, then east on 14th to Harrison and then south for a block, where it disbands. The community where Carnaval takes place is bounded by 24th and Bryant on the South, Mission Street on the West, 14th Street on the North and Harrison Street on the east.
On this foggy afternoon, the day of the Bay to Breakers, the world's biggest footrace, which starts at one end of the Bay and winds down to the Pacific Ocean, where earlier some 75,000 "runners" had their own Carnaval, some of whom were dressed as dancing fish or dalmatians, even as a human dogsled racing team with people taking the place of dogs, and a band, Elvis and His Hound Dogs, and what not. But for those who can feel it Carnaval is in the air. It's not the fervor of Rio nor Bahia; but it is chilly, hilly San Francisco, with its multicultural Carnaval.
I arrive at Golden Gate Park to watch the samba group Mara-Reggae practice. In this spot in the park, about 150 dancers of a full contingent of 175 comprising all races, ages, sizes, sexes and sexual orientations have congregated to practice their choreography to get a feeling for the sensation of being on the street, in an open space.
Brasileiro musician Wilson Low, a native of Minas Gerais, and Rhonda Stagnaro, who teaches highly successful African-Brazilian rhythm and motion classes, lead the group. As his name does not sound Brazilian, I inquire of Wilson about his ancestry and he offers that his father is Austrian, his mother Brazilian, that ancestry is impossible to trace in Brazil because all documents and records of slavery were burned around the time of emancipation when there was a land grab.
The Mara-Reggae choreography combines samba and reggae, and for Carnaval includes the choreography of Blanche Brown, a teacher of Haitian dance for 21 years and the director of Group Petit La Croix (and it is Petit La Croix because it is Creole, Ms. Brown emphasizes). A San Franciscan who has studied the Haitian Carnaval, the Ra Ra Carnaval that is celebrated right after Lent, she has collaborated with Mara-Reggae on the dance sequences, and this collaboration produces an interesting juxtaposition of styles. As her dancers make circular motions with hips and skirts while others punctuate the air waving what looks like stalks of wheat, Ms. Brown explains that the Haitian Carnaval style is sensual and teasing.
Simultaneously, the Mara-Reggae dancers samba in their own formations to the pulsating rhythms of the bateria. Rhonda Stagnaro, who is married to Low and has been participating in Carnaval and Brazilian dance for ten years, declares: "We put the accent on community, working together. It's about everybody," she says, as she encourages dancers to interact with each other and with the audience. The dancers are divided into three sectionsthe first representing Africa; the second Haiti and the slaves being brought to the New World; and the third the Mara-Reggae theme "The Spirit Cannot Be Enslaved."
A virtuoso at wielding two machetes in either hand as she dances, Ms. Brown tells me that she and her troupe will perform again in this year's San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival doing the juba, a dance that is done after the harvest. On remarking on how much of African culture Haitians have retained, she mentions that she will be presenting dances of the Fon and Mahi of Dahomey and the Ibo and Yoruba of Nigeria. On Sunday in the parade she will be dressed as a peacock in red, yellow, green, black and white. Other costumes will portray the sun, fire, water and earth.
I get comments from one of the four dance captains, Lisa Greenfield, also of Group Petit La Croix, who speaks Brazilian Portuguese and will be dancing with Mara-Reggae for the second year. Of American culture and Carnaval she says, "[Dance] is one of those things that our culture does not celebrate. It is a day to come together and enjoy." Lisa is a photographer who was in Salvador, Bahia, last year to photograph the festival of Iansã, which she says is equivalent to the religious festival of Santa Bárbara.
Cars stop, people get out to stare in awe at the spectacle on the grass. People take pictures. The bateria plays nonstop for about an hour and a half. And the King of Carnaval is here, Roger Dillahunty, an Arkansan who lives in San Francisco, who is without his queen, Milanda Moor. They won their titles at a contest in March at Cesar's Latin Palace, the entertainment mecca of the Mission. Roger says he will portray a colonial caricature, a king who alternates his demeanor by being appropriately royal and then unroyal as he mingles with his subjects. At this statement, he laughs heartily. The original founder of CitiCentre Dance Theatre in Oakland, where he danced from 1981-1988, Roger has been teaching modern jazz dance for 18 years and has taught at UC Berkeley, Cal State-Hayward, at Third Wave Dance Studio in San Francisco in the Mission for 12 years, and with the dance group Rhythm & Motion for 15 years.
As I mingle with dancers and musicians and penetrate their conversations, I overhear that Kevin Welch is building the floats, Adrianna Moreno is the group's singer, and Rosa Williams, a nurse and dancer, warns urgently that the float to be paid for by a common fund has not yet been built. So far there is "a solid group of two"she and her husbandshe notes wearily at the prospect of having to build the float themselves. Manuel DeMoussy of Guadeloupe offers help.
Walter Mackins, a native San Franciscan who plays the surdo (big drum) with Mara-Reggae and regularly with a group called Vivendo de Pão (Living From Bread) at the popular Elbo Room in San Francisco where Afro-Brazilian music is played on Tuesday nights, waxes passionate at the mention of the word Brazil. Able to get along in Brazilian Portuguese, he has traveled to São Paulo, Rio and Salvador, Bahia, declaring that he feels very comfortable, at home in Bahia, and will be returning for a visit around the time of Rio's Carnaval next year.
Like me, he is a wannabe Brazilian (he will be tickled to read this) and has a great love for and knowledge of the music and people of Brazil. Tall and impressive, he cuts a dashing figure in a Kente-cloth vest. He looks Brazilian, so much so that he is often mistaken for a Brazilian. Of the multicultural spectacle of dancers, bateria and audience, he philosophizes: "This is the universe right here. The common bond is that we like Brazilian music."
My pilgrimage now takes me into the Mission to Third Wave Studio on 24th Street to Ginga Brasil, a Brazilian dance group. Some 25 dancers and a bateria of 15 are practicing for Carnaval. I solicit comments from some of the participants, some of them Brazilians, which are revealing:
"Life is so stressful, it's a release for me," says Rhonda Ngom of Carnaval. She is one of the Ginga Brasil dancers who at a glance looks Brazilian; she lived in Brazil from 1991-1992. Kristen Makita, a former performer with Batucajé, a group she feels has "taught San Franciscans a lot of about the spirit of Carnaval," has danced in Carnaval for 20 years and feels that everyone should take part in the celebration of music and dancing; she sees it as "medicine": "I realize what happiness is, I love being part of a community. It's the heartbeat of the world, drums are," she declares, in an oblique reference to the drumming, dancing and singing that is the life force of Carnaval.
Another Ginga Brasil dancer, an underwriting assistant, will be "princess of the derrière." One of the freestyle dancers, Tracy Grantham, a San Franciscan who will be dancing extemporaneously on the street (not on the float) has paid $95 for her costume, and Frances Cavalho, a twenty-something dancer who is proud of being "75% Brazilian Indian," is passionately against the rape of the resources in the Rain Forest while thirty-one-year-old Leandro Loquércio, a Brazilian PH.D. student of plant molecular biology and a musician, likes to express "that side" of his personality. He observes that "human nature is culturally induced and sees Carnaval as "an opportunity to show how Brazilians have fun and appreciate the beauty of women."
Conceição Damasceno, a Bahian from Salvador and the artistic director of Ginga Brasil Dance Theater, is directing this rehearsal. This is Ginga Brasil's second rehearsal space, having moved to Third Wave in the Mission from the International Center on Oak Street, home of world-famous Lines ballet company. (This is also where Rhonda Stagnaro gives Afro-Brazilian rhythm and motion classes and where Blanche Brown teaches Haitian dance.)
Conçeicão, an elegant Brazilian woman with a mane of untamed hair, teaches Afro-Brazilian dance in the Bay Area and is something of an entrepreneur. For a modest fee of $5 you can contact her for discounts on dance workshops, purchases of percussion instruments and information about lectures, parties, dinners and trips to Brazil.
Tânia Santiago, also a Brasileira from Salvador, the lead dancer of the internationally acclaimed Afro-Bloco "Olodum" is also here. A dancer with a group called Fusão, she has a great feel and reverence for ritual dance and teaches dance at A.B.A.D.Á. Capoeira Brazilian Cultural Academy in the Mission. She is the choreographer of Ginga Brasil's street dancers.
"Everybody, samba!" trumpeted the San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco's biggest alternative newspaper in announcing Carnaval in its Calendar section. Another newspaper described it as "a taste of Rio in San Francisco." And in San Francisco, it is just a taste that you get because it is a multicultural festival where anyone can participate(the cost is $25 per person) not just escolas de samba. So there are different drums and different groups dancing to different beats. Participants are from Afro-Brazilian samba schools, Caribbean steel bands, Aztec dancers, folklorico ensembles from Latin America, dancers from Hawaii, and community organizations that run the gamut.
It is now about an hour before the parade. As I walk along Mission from 16th Street I see only a few people, but when I reach 22nd Street and Mission, making my way to my favorite viewing spot, a bus stop near 24th and Mission, hoping to secure a seat, by degrees a crowd starts to form. I do carve out a spot, but do not get a seat. Expectation is in the air. The sights and sounds of Carnaval are everywhere. A small group of men dressed in Hawaiian shirts try to put on a Carnaval face, laughing loud and long.
Horns toot, monitors in go-carts, vendors of colored ices, balloons and soft drinks are evident here and there, as are cops on motorcycles, or on the street usually in twos or threes, everywhere (there are well over 100), and there are a few photographers. It is a gloriously sunny day, about 65 degrees in the shade and 70 in the sun. (I am truly grateful, because last year it was cold and rainy.) Drums sound and the first vehicle, a car with the grand marshal, rounds the corner. Next there are children, and women pushing baby carriages.
The float of the Bahamas appears. Those teasing words and lilting rhythms of calypso resound: "You ask me `Who do you love?' I tell yuh, `I love nobody.'" Then there is a folklorico group followed by Masked Revelers and their steel drums, #3A (this year the groups are numbered.) The crowd is not attentive, the parade slows.
The King and Queen of Carnaval, #5, appear to very little audience response. The Queen sambas, smiling bravely. The Mara-Reggae dancers are next; but they do not have a float. However, they provide the first real excitement with their red, green and yellow costumes as they display their banner "The Spirit Cannot Be Enslaved."
Soon, #7, one of my favorites, the Aztec Dancers, about 35 strong, make an impressive appearance with their dancing. The brass-eagle headdress of the lead dancer shines while the plumed headdresses of the other dancers, resplendent in their brightly colored costumes, shimmer in the sun in ritualistic synchronicity.
The men are dressed in loin cloths and the women in Indian dresses and beads. The simple, repetitive steps are affecting. There is a ritualistic synergy. On hearing the rhythmic echoing sounds of the drums, my spirit is yet a little freer, and I am so moved that I feel impelled to follow them along the street but decide to maintain my vantage spot.
Next comes a float bearing a pyramid to commemorate the famous stone pyramids of Mexico and Central America. Renacer Bolivia follows, their dancers dressed in red, yellow and purple, their gold high-heeled boots clicking in step to a polished choreography, A bateria dressed in white, Longfellow Elementary School, is next, followed by a group from Panama of about 80 women doing a comparsa, their skirts billowing as they execute restrained steps that are uniquely Caribbean. Their float, which has a king and queen, is decorated with red, white and blue tropical fish and birds.
The Mission District Police Department, which has a van pulling a fringed float with a very professional-sounding steel band, receives respectable applause. Then a stiltwalker dressed in white and depicting death leads The African Outlet, a colorful group attired in a variety of garbs and headdresses: Some are Africans, others Arabs, and some of the women belly dancers. But it is the sanitation workers (#18, the Scavengers Protective Association) who get the most spontaneous, sustained and loudest applause of the day. They struck an ecological note with their banner "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."
Ginga Brasil (#19) appears. Numbering about 80, the dancers are dressed in green and yellow as they represent their theme, "Spirit of the Amazon." Conceição Damasceno stands out in her body stocking as she dances on the float. This looks like Brazil. Beautiful women in Carnaval costumes, dancing the samba. Ginga Brasil is followed by the San Francisco School of Circus Arts accompanied by a dog.
The sky is now overcast with scudding clouds; only glimmers of sunshine punctuate the somber sky. Somos Insetos, a group of about 200, most of them children, makes a colorful statement in imaginative costumes. Bees and butterflies are everywhere. Children in green headdresses with yellow and purple stamens sticking out like those of flowers represent the flora and fauna of the rain forest. Then there are Birds of Paradise in purple, yellow and red plumes. The sun returns to shine, to smile again on Carnaval.
Number 23, Bay Area Caribbean Congress, a soca band with singers on a truck, captures the attention of the crowd as members try to communicate in true Caribbean Carnaval style: "Follow de leader. Follow de leader, follow de leader, leader. Are yuh ready to party? Put yu hand on yu head and wine." (I translate wine (Caribbean slang) to mean moving your hips around suggestively.) And the suggestive lyrics delight the crowd; there is a new feeling in the air. (Soca bands like All Ah We have always provided that happy, relaxed, carefree Caribbean style, and their infectious music, always first-rate, has complemented the samba groups and added another dimension to Carnaval.)
At this point, the parade is backed up, so the Caribbean Congress takes control and entertains the crowd. One of the two singers who sports dreadlocks tries to get a better reaction so he turns to the crowd and says: "Too quiet, man, yuh hungry?" He tries to exhort the crowd as best he can: "Carnaval is boss, are yuh ready to party? Jump up, jump; I love soca; move yuh body, move yuh body; move to the left, move to the right; move to the left, move to the right."
For me, the rhythms are liberating. My spirit is emancipated by their spirit and I decide to follow them along the parade route until they disband at Harrison and 16th Street. On the way I see a little Brazilian boy, who is dancing, wearing a T-shirt with a map of Brazil on it. I ask his mother, Jacqueline Alves, how she feels about Carnaval and she struggles to tell me in English that the difference between San Francisco's Carnaval and that of Rio is in the music. She explains that in Rio there are numerous bateriasso much so that "you feel the sound going into your body. It is impossible to keep still."
Further along the parade route I encounter a few more Brazilians. One is wearing a T-shirt that is green and yellow, the colors of the Brazilian flag, with the word Romário, Brazil's virtuoso soccer player, emblazoned on it. At this point I estimate that almost half of the businesses along Mission street are closed and I decide to leave the soca band at 16th and Harrison where people are lined up to get into the festival in the six-block area designated for food, vendors' stalls, entertainment, and music.
I rejoin the parade at 16th and Mission, where I began at 10 a.m. to see what I have missed, surprised at a really huge gap about eight blocks long in the parade. There is the sort of quiet that suggests that the crowd is tired and has apparently been awaiting the arrival of the next group for a long time so much so that a man being arrested for having a beer can in his hand ("open liquor") becomes a focal point of attention. And I am relieved that he is let go after the police computer turns up nothing to detain him. (According to news reports after Carnaval, there were very few arrests despite a police detail of 200.)
Along comes All Ah We, one of my favorite Caribbean soca bands. I see a giant green grasshopper with gauze wings. Samba do Coração, whose theme is "Heartbeat of the Jaguar," promenades next. A huge jaguar is perched on a tree on their float and another jaguar is painted on the truck pulling their float. Their costumes are green and yellow and their bodysuits are decorated with tree branches to imitate the habitat of the jaguar.
While the sounds of a jaguar penetrate the air, about 100 dancers do their routine. Next comes Mas Makers Massive, #38, representing a huge tropical rain forest, and their contingent of at least 200 dressed in green, orange, purple and brown is an impressive presence. Following is Fogo na Roupa (#42) with a bateria and some 150 dancers dressed in red and yellow and red and black with black feathers doing the samba. D'Midas is behind them, and I strain to make out their number; it looks like #43.
At this point I am tired and it seems late, so I decide to abandon Carnaval until next year and walk home as I live in another neighborhood within walking distance. I go away thinking that I have been attending Carnaval since 1981 and it seems that after all these years Carnaval is still fine-tuning itself, that it is the Brazilian ensembles that add color and a sense of celebration. On the way home, on hearing familiar samba tunes in what seems to be a gay bar, I enter, feeling gratified that some San Franciscans really appreciate Brazilian samba music.
The parade began at 11 a.m. and ended about between 3:30 and 4 p.m., but the festival in the designated area ended at 6 p.m. according to artistic and parade director Marcus Gordon, who picks the judges for the parade. Estimates of crowd size ranged from 200,000 to 500,000. Brazil Today, a Portuguese-language paper, estimated that there were 450,000 in attendance. The groups participating in the Brazilian category were Mara-Reggae, Escola Nova de Samba (another favorite of mine), MILA-Samba, Ginga Brasil, Batú-Pitú, Birds of Paradise, Samba do Coração, and Fogo na Roupathe latter two winning second and third prizes respectively.
The first prize was won by Mas Makers Massive, a Trinidadian group. Brazil Today also reported on the behind-the-scenes controversy: Maria Helena Souza, director of MILA-Samba, which won in the best music category, feels strongly that there should be more Brazilians in the Brazilian category. Ginga Brasil did not compete for a prize because this year there was no cash prize and therefore no incentive to compete; and it is understandable considering the weeks of dance practice, the long hours of preparation, the time and expenses put into making or buying costumes and making floatsall at considerable personal expense to dancers, musicians and others.
Then there are the bateria jams, parties and events dance groups put on to try to raise money to finance their participation in Carnaval. At first, MECA awarded prizes like a float, a sound system, etc., but, according to parade director Marcus Gordon, two years ago a decision was made to award cash prizes. The grand prize was $3000, second prize $1500 and third prize $750. This year, however, due to fiscal constraints, there were no cash prizes.
Almost a week after Carnaval "A BRAZILIAN BLOCKBUSTER WEEKEND!" was announced by Omulu Capoeira Group Action Project (CAP) via the Internet to begin on Friday, June 6, with the introduction "Just when you thought Carnaval was over ...." That Friday there was a showing of the movie "Quilombo" (directed by Brazilian director Carlos Diegues) at the Victoria Theater in the Mission; on Saturday, a dance party by Fogo na Roupa and an exhibition by Omulu Capoeira, with salsa, samba, Afro-Bloco (African-inspired Brazilian dances), hip-hop, and maculelêa dance with sticks held in the hand (some dancers even wield machetes like Blanche Brown of Group Petit La Croix).
CAP offers free classes in the African-Brazilian art form of capoeira to young people in the Bay Area. The organization works with youth services and recreation agencies, including the San Francisco Department of Parks and Recreation, Horizons Unlimited, Mission Cultural Center, Casa de los Jovenes, Daly City Parks and Recreation and Guerrero House, to target young people who are vulnerable to street violence and drugsat-risk youth.
Its mission, according to CAP, is to "create a safe, healthy environment for young people to train and express themselves; develop strong relationships with parents, relatives, teachers, community workers and other supportive adults who are part of our students' lives; emphasize the connection between education and a healthy mind and body." This was billed as a family-friendly event where no smoking or alcohol was allowed.
Since 1985, Mission Educational and Cultural Association (MECA) has been the organization responsible for the production of Carnaval, and MECA owns the trademark for Carnaval San Francisco. The organization was established to promote Latino culture and produces three events a year: Cinco de Mayo, Carnaval, and Festival of the Americas (a festival that will take place on 24th Street on September 14th this year).
Each of these events employs people in the neighborhood and the umbrella organization that contracts with MECA to produce Carnaval is Mission Neighborhood Centers, a community nonprofit that provides services for young people, seniors and various community organizations. MECA has a regular paid staff and employs security people, monitors and others for Carnaval so that "some people can get a little work in the community," according to Dennis Broughton, events coordinator of Carnaval for the past 13 years.
A musician, Broughton has been a familiar face in the Brazilian community playing music for 10 years. He is in charge of food concessions for the festival. This year there were 50 food vendors, and food ran the gamutAmerican, Brazilian, Caribbean, Chinese, Filipino, Latino, etc., and a variety of bands performed in the festival area during the weekend of Carnaval.
Broughton has been to Brazil about 10 times and has an avid appreciation for things Brazilian, so much so that this summer, he and Marcelo Pereira, a capoeira teacher, hosted the first California/Brazil Summer Camp for adults from August 24-30 at Cazadero Performing Arts Camp in Sonoma County in Northern California. People slept in dormitories, tents, or their own RVs, and some 30 performers, including dancers, singers, musicians and capoeiristas from Brazil, performed.
"Top-notch," is how he described them. High-school students from Brazil attended and there were other participants from Brazil, Japan, Russia, and from all over the United States. Broughton said there is a need for a yearly camp because so many people are interested in capoeira and Brazilian culture.
On inquiring of artistic and parade director Marcus Gordon about the possibility of reducing the number of participants to minimize the lag in appearance between groups, and the possibility of putting dancers, baterias and bands at the beginning of the paradegiving them more focused performance time so that crowds do not have to wait three, four, or even five hours to see themGordon countered that the large groups, like some of the previous and current winners, this year's winner Mas Makers Massive (#37), D'Midas International, which won in 1994, 1995, and 1996, and Samba do Coracão want to be at end of the parade so that they have more time to promenade.
"They want to do Carnaval," he declared, "politically it would not work." According to Gordon, about 45 groups participated in the parade. And on my questioning the need for what seems like an excess of participants, some of whom seem disinterested as they walk in the parade, he emphatically declared that his organization tries "to keep a balance. We need that flavor in the parade," adding that crowds "come to see those kinds of groups."
In my opinion, however, it puts a lot a pressure on the musicians in the baterias because some of them have to perform for three to five hours almost nonstop from the beginning of the parade to the end. It might be better to put all the dance and musical groups participating for prizes at the beginning of the parade where they can be seen earlier by crowds who come out to see them and be entertained.
Gordon explained how the judging works: There used to be two judges in the categories of music, dance, costume and visual presentation ("the overall look"), but for 1997's Carnaval a decision was made to have three judges in each category. Gordon tried to get one judge familiar with Caribbean music, one with Brazilian music, and one with visual presentation. "Musicians judge musicians, costume designers judge costumes and visual artists judge the visual effect," he emphasized. Of the decision not to award money, he said, "Some of the groups took it well, others didn't." On my noting the absence of Samba da Alegria in the parade, he mentioned that the group has not participated for quite a few years and has disbanded.
On reflection, I do hope that the samba groups can hold together and participate every year in Carnaval; or else it will be adios (adeus as they say in Brazil) to Carnaval San Francisco because advertisements for the event invariably include comparisons with Rio's Carnaval, and show scantily-clad women in colorful costumes. Without these groups it will not be the same.
Post-Carnaval I have made some resolutions: I will resume taking Portuguese lessons, especially after hearing Brazil's beloved singer Caetano Veloso say, "I love every word in the Portuguese language." This was his apologyto an audience that was perhaps at least 95 percent Brazilian who went to see him at the Masonic Auditorium on June 27th this summerthat most of his songs were sung in Spanish in an effort to expand the market for his music and appease his record company.
And I will take more samba lessons: As Brazilophiles know, when you samba you sashay, and sway a certain way. Viva Brasil!
Copyright ©1997 by Dawn A. Tyler
Bahia Cabana Nightclub & Restaurant, 1600 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 621-4202
Brazil Today, P.O. Box 1121, El Cerrito, CA 94530-1121, (510) 236-3688
Blanche Brown, Group Petit La Croix, (415) 626-0678
California/Brazil Summer Camp from August 24-30 at Cazadero Performing Arts Camp in Sonoma County in Northern California: Dennis Broughton, (510) 655-8207 or (415) 647-4764.
Elbo Room: 647 Valencia Street (between 18th & 19th Streets) in the Mission, (415) 552-7788
Ginga Brasil: Conceição Damasceno, (510) 428-0698.
Mission Educational and Cultural Association (MECA), 2899 24th Street (at Florida), San Francisco, CA 94110, (415) 826-1401
Omulu Capoeira: (415) 255-9354; Tonya Hennessey, director, (415) 512-9025)