Noise pollution laws don’t exist in the northeast of Brazil. Beginning every night at 5 pm without fail, a guy (either on a bike or in a car) mounts his huge speakers that blare the same crazy advertisement over and over on Beira Mar, the most famous block of Fortaleza. A Nintendo theme plays in the background of this promotion and it doesn’t stop until 9 pm.
Last Monday we went to the famous Pirata bar in Praia de Iracema. This club is famous for it’s forró* Monday night parties. Traditionally, forró is played by trios consisting of an accordion, percussion, and a metal triangle.
In a land of sexy dances, the forró tops them all, even Brazil’s most famous movement, the samba. They had a live band with about 8 dancers on stage performing a choreographed routine. It’s pretty funny when you come from the land of electronic, punk and rock music.
This kind of thing would never fly in New York City. We did enjoy watching the crowd follow the steps of the dancers; a lot of hip swinging is involved. The music was lyrical, loud and poppy. After 5 caipirinhas and 10 songs we decided it was time for bed.
While driving through the small villages of the Northeast, it’s not uncommon for gas station dance parties. There, you will find groups of Brazilians rocking out to loud forró music. They usually have a car with large speakers blasting the music, which can be heard miles away. I guess they don’t get out much?
Unfortunately, there only seems to be about five songs played in the whole city of Fortaleza. One is Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn translated from English into Portuguese. This new rendition features a woman singing her heart out. She actually screams and shouts over the instruments rather than accompanying them.
The other four songs are played on repeat at every barraca (shack) on the beach strip. In the morning, afternoons and evenings we hear the same tunes over and over. It wouldn’t be an issue except we both work from home and live on Beira Mar so it’s hard to get anything done.
There are some great clubs like the Lounge Bar, Órbita and Muricube. The Lounge Bar is located in Praia do Futuro and plays excellent samba, drum n’ bass and some of the popular American dance tracks.
The club has a New York feel to it except it’s located on the beach. It’s mostly outdoors with a bright and airy feel to it. Órbita has live music and cover bands. You can dance, play pool or hang by the bar.
The Muricube boasts five different rooms within the club each specializing in a different sound. Reggae, pop, R&B/rap and electronic can all be found here. This is one of the most popular clubs in Fortaleza as it can hold up to 1,500 people. It gets really busy during the weekends.
Capoeira is another form of musical entertainment here. Every Tuesday night the Grupo do Brasil perform outside our window. There is a combination of clapping and drumming while the group (usually two at a time) tries out their kicks and flips. It’s really great to see this so up close and personal.
This is what we’ve seen thus far as I’m sure we have a long way to go. The five songs and advertising man are things we can count on everyday, almost part of our routine. Who knows? Maybe in a few months we’ll make our own dance routine to the Nintendo theme.
*Legend has it that the word forró actually comes from the English for all, meaning anybody can join in.
Jessie Simon recently moved, with her fiancé, from New York City to Fortaleza to start a kiteboarding company called Kite Adventures – www.kiteadventures.com – that specializes in guided kiteboarding tours around the Northeast of Brazil. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
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