Friday Night Funk Parties

Well, it’s a Friday night in Jacarezinho, and I think we all know what that means… yes, it’s time for the Funk Party!!! In the spirit of Friday night funk in Jacarezinho, the weekly “baile funk” (pronounced “fún-ky), and all “music” (I use the term loosely) that happens to be funk related, I give you Mr. Bean dancing “Creu…”

Creu was the big hit about, oh, six months ago – and now it has filtered down to the level of popular consciousness that the five year olds at the children’s home we work with dance it. Yes, pretty much like Mr. Bean…

To get an idea of a typical Jacare funk party, imagine a wall of speakers 15 feet high and 60 feet long. Stick that on one side of the street in my favela. If it’s a special occasion, add another corresponding wall of speakers on the opposite side of the street. Fill the area immediately surround the speakers with giant styrofoam coolers full of beer, Red Bull (and other energy drinks – maybe a little “booty sweat?”), with naked wires running to the red tinted light bulbs dangling above them. Around 11, the sound checks start. Take the music Mr. Bean danced to, turn up your speakers on your computer as loud as they will go, and then stick them inside your ears.

When I come home later on Friday nights and have to walk the gauntlet, I am reminded of the US Army’s use of “less-lethal” sound weapons – or what I imagine them to be like… My entire chest cavity is vibrating in time with the bass flooding out of the speakers, setting up wierd resonances with my eye-balls and other soft tissue in my body, and my ear-balls (that’s for you Andrew) feel as if someone sticking sharp little wires into them (which, by the way, is something you should NEVER do – at least according to “Where there is no doctor,” possibly one of my favorite books EVER…)

Around one or two in the morning, the party gets started – thousands of people jam the street, dancing like Mr. Bean. (Well, pretty much…) As the sun comes up, the party dies down – by 6:30 or 7, when I am heading out the door on the Saturday mornings I have class, things are pretty much shutting down. The street is covered in plastic cups, broken beer bottles and crushed cans, the speakers are being taken down and loaded into a truck, and all the rich kids from the Zona Sul who have come to slum it for the night are heading out to the entrance and hopping in taxis to head home and sleep it off before stumbling to the beach later on in the day…

I don’t like funk music. It’s hyper-sexualized, devoid of melody, grating on the ears, and many of the most popular songs consist of nothing but inane, pointless lyrics. Yet the professor from my “Social Responsibility” post-grad course has been talking recently about the place of funk music in Rio de Janeiro today – the voice it provides for the marginalized and excluded of Rio – the anger it represents, and the cry “Stop ignoring me. I exist. I am here. I am valuable.” She emphasized the need for those who work among these populations to understand it, even if we don’t necessarily appreciate it. I’m learning, ever so slowly…

All this chronicles what would be going on during a “normal” Friday night. But, I’m not sure if tonight will be “rocking” or “neurotico” or maybe just “canceled.” What, you might ask, would be the reasons for canceling such an event?

Well, in part, it’s the sporadic gunfire I hear coming from further up the hill. I’m not too sure, but I feel the traffickers are a bit upset that the police raided the favela today (searching for the kidnappers of an adviser to the Vietnamese Embassy to Brazil and three Chineese tourists) and happened to find over 2 TONS of marijuana, plus unspecified (large) ammounts of cocaine. 4,000 plus pounds… (this is me shaking my head in disbelief…) The last time this happened, I remember talking with Rich about how they even transport and hide that much – picturing 100 guys walking in, each carrying a 40 pound duffel full of drugs…

Fun times around here…

In other news, the bus I was riding home tonight from the streets almost got in an accident (to be honest, a series of accidents) after a feud developed between my bus driver and the driver for a rival bus company. One cut the other off, which led to much cursing, racing around, cutting off the other bus, passengers yelling out the windows at the drivers, and general nastiness all around. But, they were all near misses…

Other highlights of the week –

Monday – Got violently ill – food poisoning? went to streets anyway, got sick at our prayer time, and decided to go home so I wouldn’t be sick and throwing up on the metro-rush-hour crowds. It was a good decision. Upon making it home, I found myself locked out of my house. The lock had broken. Again. Stupid lock.

Wednesday – Got to talk to one of my favorite people in the world – my younger sister Kaitlyn – and catch up on her life…

Friday – Trip to Magé (a horrible place – ok, I exagerate – but just a bit… – where, I just learned this evening, the worst prison in all of Rio is located, and mosquitos are the size of quarters) to take food, folks, and fun (no McD’s, though) to a friend who is off the streets and living in the country while attempting to get his life back on track… If you think of Nil, pray for him. Then, back to the city for a time of group prayer/contemplation with the community, off to the streets where we found out another friend has TB. I’m worried about him – he went to the doctor today and has meds, but it’s hard to take them with consistency on the street. Plus, drugs, thinner, glue, and smoking are all BAD things to do when you are having problems with your lungs… Maybe this will be a wake up call for Rafael… Keep him in your thoughts too…

And tomorrow, finally, I have practically nothing planned – sleep in, do laundry and clean a bit… Read a little while I drink coffee on the roof and eat the kind-of-like-doughnut things I found at the bakery across the street… And be thankful…

Be safe…



Filed under creu, daily life, favela, funk, mr. bean, rio de janeiro, social analysis, streets, video

2 responses to “Friday Night Funk Parties

  1. thekate

    Funk analysis, Mr. Bean, police raid, Where There is No Doctor, and that darn lock… all in one post. Say hi to Rafael for we 3 ST-ers…tell him we are praying, please… And keep writing. It’s good stuff.

  2. Jen

    The combo of Mr. Bean and funk is priceless! I laughed during the entire video and then some.

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