Monday, November 8, 2010

Favelas, Baile Funks & Fotografia.

I may have mentioned to some that we had attended a festa in Rocinha, one of Rio's largest favelas. We thought it was going to be a baile funk - meaning a big neighbourhood party in some sort of gym or empty lot of sorts where  funk carioca music would be played, attended by many, and put on by local drug gangs.
Well anyway, it was a smaller party in a kindergarten to raise money for the kids I presume who attended the kindergarten. We went with a bunch of people from my Portuguese Class. First we went to Favela Babilonia near Copacabana to have a drink at our Danish classmate's place - I understand the hit flick 'Tropa de Elite' was filmed there! Anyways, after a subway ride and some walking and climbing the hill to Favela 1, we took a 'combi' which is a small privately owned white van that transports people along various routes. This took us as far as the foot of Rocinha, and from there we needed to take 'Mototaxis' - which is just as it sounds - taxis in the form of motorcycles which usually transports someone up hills and narrow alleys etc. It was a thrilling and exciting way to see Rocinha by night; as we whizzed past (there were 6 of us!) we saw bars open to the street, pool halls, stores, children playing, other motorcycles going by, general friday night life in this favela of about 200,000 people! Sounds and smells (not always good!) and lights saturating your mind as you are holding on for dear life (btw - you're only supposed to hold on to the back of the seat behind you, it is not common to hold onto the driver). Basically lots to take in!
The party was fun, lots of foreigners there actually, and many in costume for Halloween. Highlights of the party were the kids dancing on a nearby roof (really well actually!), and the kids down on the street as well, dancing quite promiscuously I must say, to the heavy pounding beats of the baile funk!
Getting back was similar, although more difficult to find mototaxis, and we were advised not to walk far from the party as foreigners in a favela at five in the morn. is not exactly the best idea. Anyhoo, we got back safe and sound, and we had only seen 1 guy (not police) with a machine gun on a motorcycle going by.

Below I have linked a website to some pix by a Brazilian Photographer called Pedro Lobo, who has done much work on Favelas. Check them out, they are quite beautiful.

Pedro Lobos Favela Photography

Lastly, tomorrow I go with an American friend (another classmate!) to her photography class that she is teaching in Rocinha. Should be pretty fun to hang out with some Brazilian kiddie-winks and try and teach something about photography in Portuguese! Will report back about how it went!

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