Low lights, a warm environment, candlelit tables, carpets on the walls, cushions on the floor, and a small stage are part of the decoration of the recently inaugurated Aman café, an establishment inspired on the taverns of the Middle East, where groups of friends meet to drink, talk, and listen to true Arab classical music.
Aman is one more establishment in the city of São Paulo that has the Arabs and their culture as its theme, which has is becoming all the more attractive to Brazilians.
According to musician Sami Bordokan, who is the owner of the café, the main focus of Aman is to show the true Arab classical music, root music.
“Aman is not a dating bar, neither is it a nightclub, it is a cultural proposal,” stated Bordokan, who plays the lute.
The target public is not only the Arabs and their descendants, but also those interested in listening to good music and nibbling Arab delicacies, ranging from servings of kibes (meat balls) and esfihas (small pies) to meat rolled in grape leaves, dry clabber, homus salad, and babaganush.
“The cultural affinity between Brazilians and Arabs is very large,” stated Bordokan, who believes that the Arab culture is not only a fad on the rise among Brazilians, but something that has come to stay.
“In the last one hundred years the Arabs have brought kibes and esfihas to Brazil, products that may currently be found throughout the country,” he added.
The establishment, which is not even two months old, opens from Thursday to Sunday and includes a varied program. The groups that play at the establishment play from traditional Brazilian music, like chorinho, to classical Arab music.
The café also promotes dance presentations like flamenco, from Andalusia, Spain, Indian dance, and belly dancing. Once a month there is also a Greek evening.
“We present the Arab and Greek folklore, all in the purest and most essential form,” stated the company owner, who counts on the assistance of his fiancée, Cristina Antoniadis, who is of Greek origin and is a dance teacher. She was responsible for the architectural design of Aman, for the decoration, and for the cuisine.
To Bordokan, Arab music was well accepted in the Brazilian culture. The oriental rhythms, according to him, were initially brought to Brazil by the Portuguese and the Spaniards, who spent almost 800 years under the Arabic and Islamic dominion, and through part of the Negro Muslim slaves who were brought to Brazil.
“Brazilians identify themselves with Arab music, and when they listen to it, they like it even more,” stated the musician.
Family of Musicians
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Sami Bordokan started playing the lute at the age of 6, and has not stopped since. “My family has a strong musical tradition. My father is an amateur lute player, and he and my uncle sing very well,” stated Bordokan, who became the first professional musician in the family.
He took the opposite route from that of his parents. Born in Brazil, he lived in Lebanon for many years, where he improved his knowledge of classical Arab music.
“I went to the village of Miniara-Akkar, in Northern Lebanon, from where my parents had come. I lived there and could feel the Arab culture and live the riches of our tradition,” stated Bordokan, who graduated in classical eastern and western music.
When he returned to Brazil, he established a band including four musicians: himself; Cláudio Kairuz, who also studied in Lebanon and brought a kanun, the instrument that inspired the creation of the harpsichord; William Bordokan, a percussionist who plays the derbaki drum; and Gabriel Levi, who plays the accordion.
In December last year, the group recorded CD “A Corda da Alma (The Strings of Soul)”, which includes some classical Arab songs from the 10th, 12th, 18th and 19th, centuries, as well as compositions by Bordokan.
According to him, the lute represents the soul, the kanun represents the universe and the sound of celestial spheres, and the derbaki represents man, as the instrument is made of clay. “I consider myself the person who introduced the lute to the non Arab community,” stated Bordokan.
Avenida Miruna, 396, Indianópolis, São Paulo (SP)
Tel: (+55 11) 5041-9428
Reservations: (+55 11) 9399 -0114
ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency