Baile Funk at Cantagalo favela

As we live really close to it in posto 6 of Copacabana, Cantagalo was the most obvious place to go to my first baile funk in favela. First of all, a lot of people don’t go to favela at all and it really can be dangerous. All the favelas are controlled by the drug factions and a lot people die every day in the confrontations between traficantes (the drug dealers) and police. Comando Vermelho (CV) that controls Cantagalo is one of the most notorious factions. But I’ll tell you more about the favelas, factions and violence in another post, now just about the first time I went to the baile funk in Cantagalo.

When I mentioned that I was planning to go to the baile there, a friend of mine said to me: ”What! Are you crazy?! You wanna die?!” Anyway, it was New Year’s Eve and I went with my girlfriend Veera to Ipanema where there was a huge consert of Black Eyed Peas. They sucked, so we decided to go up to the baile. It was two o’clock in the night and raining lightly. Normally you would take a van or a moto taxi up the hill, but we didn’t see any at the entrance of the favela, so we went walking upwords.

When you enter the favela, you can clearly see it’ a world apart. After the first bending of the road there was two cars on the both sides of the street and sitting on top of them about 10 drug dealers competing of the customers. ”Crack? Cocaine? Marihuana?” Passing the pusher corridor there were some people hanging out on a bar and some five kids (aprox. 7-12 years old) in a corner across the street smoking crack from small pots.

Down in Copacabana it’s high class apartments, hotels and rich people passing on the streets just 500m away. The more you go up into the favela, the more there is trash on the streets and irregular buildings made of tile blocks and sement growing to all directions seemingly without any control or plan.

So we continued up the road and it was a bit more calmer. The was a group of girls and I asked them where the baile was. They said they were going there also, so we went together. It was up some 1000m more and there were loads of people hanging outside a huge building, with an entire wall open on the second floor. The stairs going up on the side of the building were crowded with ghetto youth and we passed sqeezing through the mass into the tiny passage. People were really looking at us like they weren’t used to see white foreigners there. The whole night I didn’t see any other white people, not even brazilian; every one in the baile was black or mulatto.

The baile was in a big hall, that was surrounded by a second floor, from where you could watch down to the dancefloor. The open side where there was no wall was covered by a wall of speakers about 4m high and 15m wide. Behind them the rain was pouring down from the roof. It was pitch black and the hall was so absolutely full you started sweating immeadietly. The sound loud as fuck and I could feel a nice resonance of bass in my chest. Oh yeah, this was a favela baile alright!

There was so many people I could see nor the dj or any mc, even though you could hear someone shouting to the mic every once in a while. A lot of people had come with their bonde, a group of friends and were dancing together on a row. (the name bonde, meaning a tram, comes apparently from this dancing style of dancing forward, one behind another, like a train.)

All the people were dancing with crazy styles; some small boys (there was a lot of about 10-14 years old kids around) were bouncing away on a bonde, leaning back on each other and touching the floor with their hands and popping their hips up towards the girls. Others were going on a row, turning their heads on the side on every backbeat, all simultaneously. A group of guys was hitting on three girls, dancing on a bonde, surrounding them and provoking them sexually, while closing the circle around the girls at the same time. Girls were breaking down to the floor, them winding slowly their asses up and then shaking them like only brazilian girls can.

Most of the girls were wearing tiny shorts or skirts and a skin tight top leaving the breasts well pumped up. (even Veera, who isn’t generally into that kind of clothes, admitted that it’s so fucking hot dancing squeezed in a crowd like that on a tropical Rio night, that no wonder they wear as little as possible.) The boys were most wearing surfing shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt.

While we were dancing away on the ruff beat, (I didn’t recognize a single song that evening, even though I know quite a few...) I went on observing the space. Near the entrance there was a booth where you could buy drinks and the toilets. On the second floor balcony you could see the shape of a young guy standing and monitoring the hall with a gun (AK-47 or something) hanging from his shoulder. On the other side there was another.

The power of the sound system, the enthusiasm of the crowd, the joy of people dancing and the whole atmosphere of the baile really impressed me: This was definately my type of party!

We stayed at the baile for about an hour and a half, until Veera got so hot in her clothes that she began feeling dizzy. (There wasn’t much fresh air to breath in the hall.) So we left home, walking down the road. It was around four in the morning and the bass left swaying in the air behind us. Sweet, huh?


maya said...

amazing !!!

I really felt the atmosphere that New Year's baile funk !!!

Anonymous said...

Hey man, I followed your traces in Cantagalo: I was there last October, got bored at Disco Helpe and my guide, who was a niece of the Commando Vermelho patron, asked if I wanted to check out the Baile Funk at the favela. We left Helpe and moved like 1000 meters further up the hill into the favela. First passed the cops and then got on a motortaxi up the hill. It was a fridayn night and the venue, like you discribed was packed. We got up to the balcony on the second floor and watched the crowd. Brilliant music and they showed porn movies on a big screen. I was the only white guy in the place! And weapons all around :old uzies and M5, pistols and rifles carried around by kids between, I guess, 13 and 15. Who where high as hell! They moved the drugdealing to a little street the gave out to the entrance of the venue. Since I was with the patron's niece, they didn't bother us, but it was quiet a sight. A couple of days later we went to Cidade de Deus wich was quiet different: more poverty and such. Good discreption of Cantagalo! Wicked place to live. O bailla todo! Brusselboy27@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I have lives in Pavao Pavaozinho/ Cantagalo the last six months and been to the funk party a couple of times. I really enjoyed it, there was a good vibe and people were going crazy. Lot of drugs and guns. Only some time ago the government decided to clean out some favelas including Pavao/Cantagalo, Babilonia, Cidade de Deus, etc so in November the Bope came in. There was a cross fire and some people got killed. They actually found a baby alligator that was used by the maffia for the disposal of bodies. Pretty crazy, considering it's so close to Rio's main tourist area. Also the second day of the happening some guys blew up a public bus on Nossa Senhora with a bomb and a can of fuel, as a sign of retaliation. Luckily no people were injured. Now, four months later there is still police all over the place and lot's of tension.

Anonymous said...

good times man. would love to attend one day. funk for the win