A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I went to a street party in the centre of São Paulo. I didn’t know too much about this party before arriving, but I was instantly sold on the idea of going when my friends suggested it.
Well, I’m a big fan of street events in downtown São Paulo in general. This area is run down, it’s glorious; it’s dangerous, it’s fascinating, it’s dirty, it’s actually pretty enchanting…and as soon as the blanket of darkness falls over it, it’s also curiously intimidating. So events that run through the night in this area (when you’re in the safety of numbers) really allow you to appreciate and see the city centre in a different way. Plus, I knew that the guys DJ-ing had a reputation for playing good music and that there would be an eclectic mix of Paulistanos (the nickname given to those from the city) of all ages and backgrounds there to party.
Oh yeah, and it was FREE!
The Candi Staton Incident
Let me set the scene. I was a few beers into my night and a reasonable distance away from the speakers, far enough to be able to catch up with my friends over the music. The DJ had been playing some choice electronic music for a few hours, and then he did something entirely unexpected.
He dropped an absolute belter of a tune.
He played You Got the Love.
I’m not talking about the more recent one by Florence and the Machine here, I’m talking about the ’86 version. The old school classic! As a 90s kid I’d be happy to argue (with anyone who will listen) that the remix released by The Source is the best You Got The Love around, but I’m very fond of the 80s one too.
So as soon as I heard it, I unselfconsciously threw my hands in the air (with the type of enthusiasm that didn’t seem all that excessive after a few bottles of Heineken). I looked at my friend Gabriel, someone who also shares my love of 80s and 90s dance music, and saw a huge grin settling across his face.
“Let’s go near the speakers!” he said with a heavy sense of urgency. Not needing to be asked twice, I nodded and we pushed our way through the crowd to get to the front. I can’t remember if I still had my hands in the air at this point, bathing in the vocals of Candi Staton, but I remember screaming something along the lines of ‘I LOVE THIS SONG.’
I know right, so cool!
Out the corner of my eye I noticed two young guys dressed like Justin Bieber moving towards us. I remember being surprised at the time that they were walking AWAY from the music, as if they didn’t want to hear it.
As they brushed past us one of the guys turned to his friend and said,”Essa música é bem antiga, ne?” (This music is so old, isn’t it?).
As my lager soaked brain tried to get my head around that comment, I swear the music stopped.
Time slowed down.
The air became still.
I was no longer aware of anything else happening around me.
And in that moment I felt OLD! Like, seriously old!
I’d love to say that they had probably said this just to kill our middle-aged vibe. But no, I’m pretty sure that they hadn’t even spotted me and Gabriel rushing towards the speakers. In all likelihood the bill of their caps had probably affected their vision.
“Did you hear what those guys just said?” asked Gabriel when we’d found a spot a few moments later.
“I did,” I conceded, reluctantly. Then we exchanged uneasy glances, acknowledging that our excitement for Candi Staton had now been harnessed by these two little shits!
Its moments like this act like a wake up call, that you’re not as young as you once were!
Not that I have a big problem with getting older, I mean …I’m really enjoying my 30s. To be honest, I’ve never felt more comfortable being ‘me’ than I have right now (my time in Brazil has definitely played a huge role in this). But still; being at the same party as guys who probably think Candi Staton is something you buy in a sweet shop is….well, scary!
But there are plenty of Brazilians here who DO appreciate their 80s and 90s dance music. Actually, the beauty of São Paulo is that it’s nightlife caters to so many different ages, interest groups and musical tastes; so when the mood takes me, there are a lot of places I can go to party alongside people who enjoy this genre.
“But Andrew, don’t you think it’s strange that you have come from England and in the clubs here play so much English speaking music?”
I’ve been asked this by Brazilians on a number of occasions now, and well….I guess I must have found it weird when I first arrived, a naive part of me had expected to be immersed into a world exclusively of samba. But there is no denying that English speaking music is a huge deal over here. Nowadays I don’t even think twice about being on a night out in the largest city in Latin America, singing along to songs in English.
If I”m being honest, the only time listening to English speaking music becomes ‘strange’ for me is when I discover that an obscure song has managed to make a dent in the Brazilian music scene of the past. Let me give you my favourite example of this, Come Into My Life by Gala.
For those of you from Europe old enough to remember Freed from Desire (“My lover’s got no money, he’s got his trumbalise strong beliefs”), you might struggle to remember anything else recorded by this artist. Well, if you’ve been to one of the cheesy Brazilian clubs that play this Come Into My Life, you’re likely to be surprised to see how animated people get by it.
I had literally never heard of this song before moving here. To be completely honest, on first listen in a club I thought it was truly awful….but after hearing it on a number of nights out now, it has grown on me. I must confess, I’m now waving my arms around whenever it comes on and joining the masses when it’s time for the chorus.
“Come, come, come into my life!”
So for me the strangest thing about hearing English speaking music here is that I’m sometimes learning about the 90s dance music (sang in English) that was popular over here. And also that dancing to the ‘classics’ isn’t always going to be something the youth of Brazil will be into!
Have you discovered any random English speaking songs that were popular in other countries? Have you ever unexpectedly been made to feel old by locals when living abroad?