Tag Archives: sao paulo

A Few of My Favorite Things

7 Aug


Last week I watched a Brazilian news show on which the main reporter interviewed several “estrangeiros” (foreigners) about their experiences living here in Brazil. When the time came for them to talk to the American, of course she was the ultimate personification of the worst stereotypes of my people. She was skinny, white, blonde, and blue-eyed (nothing wrong with any of those things, but the stereotype here is that ALL Americans look like that OR that we’re all grossly overweight). She spoke no Portuguese and barely made an attempt to learn it. When asked what her favorite thing about Brazil was, she replied “cheap maid service.” You see, in the States, having a maid is a privilege often reserved for the rich. Not in Brazil! Here, labor is so cheap that you can exploit people as you please! (sarcasm) But seriously, that was her answer.

I was ashamed, at that moment, to be an American.

Even the Mars landing, all those gold medals, and our excellent demand of frying things could not bring back my pride. Instead, I thought, it would be worth giving an alternative answer. Sure, there are things that suck about Brazil (AS anywhere), but there are lots of things that are awesome…far beyond cheap house cleaning.

If they had interviewed me, the viewers might have been confused. I “look Brazilian” (or so everyone here says). I speak Portuguese. I don’t wear Hawaiian print shirts, Tevas, or carry my backpack to clubs. I can handle my liquor. I have an uncanny ability to never look lost, even though I am ALWAYS lost here (the streets go in spirals…no joke…and change names about 3 times per block). And I would give a much better answer than the bimbo they had speak for us. You see, what I like most about Brazil is its….

– People. They work A LOT (though are rarely given credit for their dilligence) and yet still make time to be with family, to hang out with friends, and to be generally cordial even on the most craptastic of days.

– Parties. They go all night. They make NYC’s 4 am closing time look like the hours of a daycare center. Their club nights are ragers…some even go as long as 24 hours. I have never been able to make it until the lights come on (though that’s a personal goal I plan on accomplishing this week!)

– Music. Let’s face it: Brazilian music is the bomb. And I am not just talking about samba and bossa nova, folks. Every day, there is a new type of music popping up here, even as close as someone’s backyard (funk carioca, anyone?). Sao Paulo’s DJs give the audio knights of Western Europe a serious run for their money and the triangle swinging, accordian slinging forro players make American country look pitiful.

– Juice. Go into any diner and you will most likely have the option of anywhere from 5 – 15 fresh juice options for under $3. The juice list at the diner down the street from me, despite being written in alphabetical order, still makes me dizzy JUST from its awesomeness. Acai, strawberry, grape, mango, cashew (yes, that’s a fruit before it’s a nut!)…you name it, they have it. Pretty sweet…literally.

suco de acerola…yum!

– Shoes. Whenever I am in Brazil, I buy a sh*t-ton of shoes, mainly because the equivalent shoe in the US will be a) double the price, b) uncomfortable, and/or c) fall apart before I can even break it in. The shoes here are reasonably priced, cute, comfortable (I can’t speak to heels as I hardly wear them, but I hear those are pretty comfy too…considering), and e v e r y w h e r e. I can buy shoes in the metro station! (not even kidding). Brazil is also home to some of my favorite shoe designers like Melissa and Louloux (whose sale I finally had a chance to go to! more on this later), both of which are always challenging the status quo with cutting edge designs.

my newest from Louloux

– Beauty. I can get a manicure/pedicure for $10 or less, depending on the city, and they get rid of all the cuticle! My polish lasts longer and my nails generally look prettier (I have short grubby nails that I tend to bite…the convenience of getting manicure/pedicures here helps prevent that). The hair products are also amazing, especially for people with curly hair like myself. They have a hair product for every single racial and/or ethnic group and all the possible racial mixes therein. And if you hate your hair type, there is a treatment, serum, conditioner, or process that can help you with that for under $50. Hair salon services are also reasonably priced. On another side note, everything seems to grow faster here (my only guess is that they have fewer preservatives in their foods, even the packaged ones + the higher temperature in most places = open pores). My hair and nails grow like wildfire.

– Repairs. People still fix things here instead of jumping to buy a new version of whatever broke. There is someone who possesses the skill to fix whatever failed you and usually very cheaply.

– TPM magazine. It’s technically “Trip Para Mulheres” (Trip (a men’s magazine) for women), but “tpm” also means “pms” in Portuguese, so it’s a funny play on words. It’s like Jane or Bust, but in Portuguese. SADFACE that I can’t get a subscription sent to the US, but I am trying to work some magic to fix that.

– Reduced Movie Tickets. Depending on the day of the week, movie tickets have different prices. Wednesday is the cheapest day. Students and old folks get half off. When is New York going to catch onto this awesomeness?

– Muggia. The best bag boutique in Rio. They make beautiful pieces of leather, canvas, and mixed materials. Their purses are on the pricey side, but they’re worth it. They last f-o-r-e-v-e-r!

This is just a sampling of my favorite things about Brazil. There are many more. But in a 10-minute news segment about my experiences here, that’s what I would have said.

– Retail DJ

Mothership

8 Jul

Last Friday, I played old lady and stayed at home. I was still exhausted from my 7 am arrival that morning from the previous night’s festivities and needed a night off. But once Saturday came around, I had enough energy to pull another all-nighter. Like a good little baladeira, I chose D-Edge again, especially after seeing that the lineup for their weekly Mothership party included Amsterdam-based DJs Antal (known for Rush Hour Music) and Tom Trago. I arrived around 1245. After super suave disco-y house set by D-edge resident Ohnishi in the side room, the other DJs started filing in the main area.

After the first DJ (Max Underson, I believe?), Antal went on with lots of disco and soul-heavy music that transitioned into a percussion-laden Afro-Latin/samba/Afrobeat set that lit the dancefloor on fire (including yours truly). Following Antal, Tom Trago went in deep on the house front, throwing in a mix of nu disco and deep house that kept us all drenched in sweat. Beyond the music, a few funny moments happened. . . like when Tom tried to get the crowd hyped, but in English, and I was the only one following orders immediately (i.e. “everybody put your hands up!”). I’d go first just out of habit (as English is my first language), followed by the Brazilians who spoke English and, after a slight delay, those who caught on by observation.

All in all, the music was fabulous and I had an amazing time. Looking forward to many more nights at D-Edge. To give you a little taste of what I heard, here are some mixes for your streaming and downloading pleasure:

click to stream; click the small arrow on the right to download

a mix by Mau Mau (whom I missed that night…even though I didn’t leave until 7 am!!!)

a house/electronic set by Ohnishi

a live set by Antal from a previous visit to D-Edge that’s full of soul

a great mix by Tom Trago…I can’t even describe it. The music speaks for itself.

– Retail DJ

What’s Old Is New Again

7 Jul

fica de olho, literalmente, nas feiras de antiguidades (keep your eye on the antique fairs, literally)!

In the past decade, Brazil has undergone drastic economic transformations that have led to an increase in the size of its middle class. This segment of Brazil’s population has used its buying power as a means of self-definition, with mass consumerism as evidence of not only their existence, but also their success. Though new name-brand electronics, homewares, and clothing are high on the wish lists of Brazil’s nouveaux riches, old items have emerged as the signs of true taste.

Labels remain a marker in one’s class status, as many imported goods and clothing brands such as Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, LG, and Apple remain inaccessible to a large majority of Brazilians. The Brazilian government insists on high import taxes to keep demand for foreign goods relatively low and protect its domestic market, though in recent years it has steadily encouraged its population to experience the world with both their eyes and their wallets. Subsequently, foreign marcas (labels) have lost a degree of their exclusivity among the pre-existing middle to upper classes. Additionally, the emergent avante-garde of college-educated, city-dwelling young people have contributed greatly to this process as they have sought to challenge the style status quo by establishing their own alternative.

the booth for Godoy Arte e Antiguidades

Style, in today’s terms, does not lie in an item’s newness, label, or location of origin. Instead, in large cities like Rio and  São Paulo, alternative youth subcultures and the “old” middle class have come to valorize vintage wares and antique furnishings over the often cheaply made newer options. This taste, however, has a high price-tag of its own, with many of the items costing well above their foreign counterparts, a reality that antiques specialist André notes is only somewhat eased by the internet. “You can go on the internet now and find an item sold somewhere else for less,” he noted. “Sometimes when we do pricing, we have to keep this in mind.” I met Andre at São Paulo’s famous Feira de Antiguidades (Antiques Fair) in Praça Benedito Calixto. His booth stood out among many of the others as it contained countless collectibles connected to one of my favorite subjects: music. He had record players and grammaphones in excellent condition for their age, all of which he restored himself.

André’s beautiful antiques booth

Curious about how André and other antiques connoisseurs acquired their goods, I spoke with several dealers behind the booths. Many had taken the items off the hands of those who had lost love ones and simply did not know what to do with their old goods. “In some cases, a relative dies and someone in the family will come here to sell their old things,” André noted. Andre, who declined to give his last name as he felt his goods spoke better for themselves than he ever could, also buys and sells items from his home by appointment. Other traders like Pedro Amorim, prefer to use the internet to acquire their goods. “I buy lots of things from the internet, but I sell there as well.” Pedro, whose collection of colorful restored rotary phones caught my eye immediately, is not afraid to use the computer as a point of trade. His page on Mercado Livre (a Brazilian site similar to eBay and Amazon) is always fully stocked, and his customers pay a pretty penny for his fluorescent phones; each one sells for R$200 ($100 USD) a piece.

Pedro Amorim’s fluorescent phone collection

For others, consignment sales came about through a personal hobby or out of love for all things vintage. Husband and wife team Thomas and Elizethe fill their Saturdays with booth sales in vintage clothes and accessories. Their all-leather vintage purse collection was a true standout. Each piece was in excellent condition and Elizethe had even upgraded some of the bags to include secret pockets for one’s cell phone or mp3 player.

Thomas standing with his vintage clothing collection

But vintage and antiques sales are not limited to Saturdays in Pinheiros, the neighborhood that is home to the Praça Benedito Calixto. In fact, there is at least one feira das antiguidades in all the major cities in Brazil. In Rio, the most popular antique fair takes place at Praça XV in Centro. Amidst skyscrapers and new buildings, vendors sell items from as far back as the early 1800s. Booths upon booths are filled with old coins, jewelry, clothing, and even military supplies! There are also sections along the margins of the fair where antique traders sell furniture in all conditions (as some buyers want to do the restoration work themselves). In addition to the fairs, there are several malls where you can find brechó (vintage) stores galore, such as the Galeria Ouro Fino in São Paulo or Shopping Cidade Copacabana in Rio.

brincos de pressão (clip-on earrings) from Rio and São Paulo

Though I have my own motives for attending these fairs (I am building a collection of clip-on earrings from each of the places I travel; see above), they are lots of fun to check out even if you have no intention of making a purchase. They are great places to learn more about a country’s history just by looking at artifacts from the past and excellent locations for people watching. Their food stations, complete with yummy lanches (snacks/quick bites) from various regions of Brazil, will keep your stomach happy as well!

If you’re ever in Rio or São Paulo, I highly suggest giving these antique fairs and stores a go:

São Paulo:
Feira de Antiguidades de Praça Benedito Calixto; Pinheiros
every Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm

Feira de Antiguidades de Paulista (aka “Feira do MASP” (Museu de Arte de São Paulo)), Avenida Paulista, 1578; Bela Vista
every Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm

Galeria Ouro Fino, Rua Augusta 2690; Jardim Paulista
Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm

Rio de Janeiro:
Feira de Antiguidades de Praça XV; Centro
every Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm

Feira do Rio Antigo, Rua do Lavradio; Centro
first Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm

Shopping Cicade Copacabana, Rua Siqueira Campos, 143; Copacabana
check site for individual store hours

– Retail DJ

The Music Inside

7 Jul

Andre Lodemann @ Moving. photo courtesy of D-Edge

Midnight. As I waited for the bus at Tiete that would be taking me back to Rio, I saw a young man sitting on the floor, lotus-style. His eyes were closed, hands at rest. His body was still. On his ears, giant headphones transmitting music that clearly transported him to a different place, some location far away from the scuffed floor of the busy bus station. He had found his center.

For many of us, music serves as a means of finding ourselves and reconnecting with our thoughts. We can be “inside our head,” though with a soundtrack. For me, Sao Paulo is my center when I am in Brazil and its amazing clubs provide the soundtrack.

Joao Lee

I’m not really a day person (my brain wakes up around 2 pm, at the earliest), and I feel more alive at night. When I do things during the day, I usually need to have music on (either via headphones or speakers) to stay awake (mentally and physically) and alert. At night, however, the music I hear feels more natural, much like the air we breathe or the blood that flows inside our bodies. It sounds clearer. It brings out emotions. When that music is live, the effect intensifies, often giving me chills or leaving me in tears if the DJ is really doing his/her job well. I say all this as someone who doesn’t do drugs and who only drinks lightly, by the way. Music has an incalculable effect on me.

D-Edge’s ever stylish door mistress

For my first night in Sao Paulo, the ambassadors of sound came by way of D-Edge, a great club located near the Barra Funda bus station/metro stop. I had been there the year before, but found the crowd deplorable. Luckily this time, I was accompanied by Dee Bufato (friend and man of music in his own right) and some of his friends who were great company! The DJs/producers playing that night for D-Edge’s Thursday night party Moving were China (who did a tag team set with Joao Lee, both from Brazil),  Jollan, Adnan Sharif (of Brazil/USA),  and the headliner André Lodemann (of Berlin). I did not get a chance to stay through most of Sharif’s set (even though I left around 6:30 am!…yes folks, the party keeps going), but I saw the rest.

China (Right)

China and Joao Lee’s set was hard and heavy on the tech house, a great energy warm-up for the crowd to get prepared for Lodemann’s set, which truly wove a story with its deeper house sound. Though I unfortunately do not have the actual sets, here is some of their respective work to give you an idea of their sound. Hopefully, it will transport you to my first night in Sao Paulo or to wherever you find your musical center (click to stream, click the small arrow on the right to download):

China – Live Set for Move Club (Dec 2011)


*This mix, while good, doesn’t fully convey China’s skill. While at D-Edge, I truly enjoyed his music.

Joao Lee (as half of Dubshape)

Andre  Lodemann

Adnan Sharif

– Retail DJ

*all photos courtesy of D-Edge

On the Road…to Sampa!

28 Jun

this is not my bus, but it looks like this 🙂

written at 12:49 am….

At times, I wonder if I am completely strange. I say this because I like certain things that most people abhor beyond belief, one of them being long trips. I write this as I am traveling from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo…by bus. Most people would have opted to take the quick flight that only costs about $20 more and takes a 7th of the travel time. But again, maybe I am strange. I love long bus rides, particularly those in Brazil where buses are clean, safe, air conditioned, and not sketchy in the least. This is no Greyhound trip, folks. This is a cushy, 6- hour journey that gives me a view of the smooth and ever-so-scenic southern Brazilian interstate.

The things I see along the way are always interesting. Most entertaining are the titles of love motels that line the hours of endless pavement and the strange juxtaposition of favela-laden + rural landscapes. Another interesting feature is the large set of warehouses and factories for chain stores like Carrefoure and Walmart (yes, they have Walmart here!), a sight that always makes me feel more like I am in my hometown of Memphis and not in between big cities that are home to over millions of people.

Though I will only be in Sao Paulo for five days, I intend on filling with lots of activities, many academically motivated of course. I am here on a research trip afterall. But I will certainly be taking the time to “aproveitar” (take advantage of) my time here in my most favorite Brazilian city. Complete with its long stretches of asphalt, unbeatable nightlife, and a whole of things to do, Sao Paulo will always have a special place in my heart as my home away from home when I am here in the B. What that means for you as readers is that a new set of posts dedicated to my beloved Sampa are coming up. Be on the lookout.

– Retail DJ

Galeria Melissa Hits NYC!

23 Feb

Galeria Melissa SOHO ad campaign

Maybe I was sleeping under a rock, but I somehow missed the Melissa, the Brazilian plastic shoe line with which I can safely say I am fully obsessed, has opened an NYC store! I thought I was seeing things when I noticed the ads for a Galeria Melissa Soho store on the subway platform last night, but indeed, it’s true. The store opened February 8th!

While I’m an avid fan of its Sao Paulo store, I’m excited to see there is one just a stone’s throw away from Brooklyn in downtown Manhattan. Soho has always been the center for flagship stores for innovative clothing and accessory lines, but some of them haven’t fared well. Hopefully Melissa can “bring it,” and weather the storm with the brightness of its quirky rubber/plastic/pvc magic. My suggestion for its survival: frequent sales. As most of you may know, the US prices for Melissa shoes are a bit exorbitant, hence my hoarding pieces I buy at the Sao Paulo store (when I am in Brazil, of course) or via Brazilian friends. I pay up to 70% less when I buy them in the B, so it’s worth it. It’s also nice to get pieces “off-season” because they are usually heavily discounted. Doing that here might be a bit challenging, but I’ll see if I can work my magic.

As promised via the Retail DJ facebook page, here is my write-up on the newest collection: Plastic Paradise

This fall/winter collection (remember, southern hemisphere = opposite seasons) features a contrast of dark colors with lots of shimmer. Unlike previous collections, which relied primarily on texture differences to set itself apart from the summer lines, this fall/winter collection brings on the bling. Lots of pieces include a “basic” shoe and its naughty “glitter” doppelganger. This collection also features plenty of daytime pieces, included the adorable boat shoe “Moon” and the sleek cutout “Jean,” on which the company collaborated with designer Jason Wu to create. The line is fun, yet sophisticated, and overall left me with a ton of favorites. Here are my top picks:

01:45 "Star" (in pink)

I love the clean lines and soft colors this season for “Star,” a modified gladiator sandal perfect for spring and summer.

02:40 "Jean + Jason Wu" (in yellow)

I’m equally enamored with this cut-out skimmer by Jason Wu, which I could imagine contrasting very well on medium to dark skin or even with dark hosiery to help transition the shoe for a fall wardrobe.

03:16 "Mulher Maravilha" ("Wonderwoman") (in blue)

I always coveted the red, pointed-toe version of the Wonderwoman Melissa shoe released a few years back! Now they’ve create a version with a more subtle silhouette at the toe box, this time a slightly rounded point, and produced the piece in darker colors appropriate for fall/winter.

03:57 "Virtue" (in leopard)

A loafer in leopard print? LUV. It’s funky yet work-appropriate. It also comes in brightly colored leopard prints as well (i.e. this shimmery turquoise style). And let’s be honest, an eco-friendly style sure beats the traditional horsehair versions!

04:30 "Moon + Jason Wu" (in green)

Another loafer in bright colors, care of Jason Wu, whose collaborations with the line have breathed new life into more traditional pieces. These work for all ages and are super comfy!

06:20 "Virtue Special" (in gold)

When I saw these, I immediately thought, “If Elton John were a shoe designer…” This super star of a slip-on is truly fun and comes in gold, silver, and many other glitter-laden styles.

05:32 “Ultragirl Glitter” (in pink)

Another glitter fave, this version of Ultragirl pushes the limits and is eerily reminiscent of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. There’s no place like Galeria Melissa!

06:25 "Electric" (in gray)

This flocked heel reminds me of a shoe I wore to a high school dance, only now with a little more edge. This punky yet formal heel encourages even the more subdued of us to find our inner vixen. It’s sexy, no-nonsense.

07:15 :"Celestial" (in yellow)

At first glance, I thought of Rumplestiltskin, who would have rocked these bright mustard heeled oxfords without hesitation. They are quirky, but also work appropriate and come in a variety of colors and textures.

7:51 "Incense Glitter" (in gray)

And last, but not lease, the sweet “Incense” heel in glitter mode. This comfortable heel comes with a rounded toe in the front and a surprise in the back with its double bow accents at the heel. This line comes in plain colors as well, but I have to say the glitter version is my favorite.

If you’re in NYC, check out the Galeria Melissa SOHO: 102 Greene Street, NY, NY

– Retail DJ

Under_Construction

1 Sep

Under_Construction

I always say that things happen for a reason. Sure, it’s a cliche oversimplification of the way everything works, but it’s a fairly fitting statement in most cases. My experiences in Brazil are no different, each of them bearing some bit of fate that throws things temporarily off-balance, only for it all to work itself out again.

Take, for example, the location I chose to stay. When I was debating between two locations, it came down to convenience and proximity to the subway. I knew that Sao Paulo had just opened its yellow line, so I thought that the hostel I chose was perfect considering its 1-block walk to the yellow line “Oscar Freire” stop. Yet google fooled me good, and as it turns out, the section closest to my hostel (pictured above) is still under construction.

Alas, it’s a 15 minute walk up a steep hill to get to the subway that DOES work, and by that time, my body is so conditioned to the walking that I just end up walking everywhere I need to go. Sure, 15 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but just imagine taking that walk every time you want to go somewhere and with a really heavy bag and crazy feet. And there you have it. My present.

But considering my love for Sao Paulo, I always manage to find a silver lining. For one thing, I am a mere 3 blocks from the Galeria Melissa (the Melissa megastore that I always rave about), Nespresso (I am a total coffee addict), and adjacent (by half a block) to what I like to refer to as “The 5th Avenue of Sao Paulo,” known by others as Oscar Freire. Sao Paulo’s always full of little surprises, and this trip is no different from the others.

While the phantom subway line (I swear it shows up on google maps) was a shock, there were other aspects to life here in SP that came as no surprise. One of them being the sheer excellence of nightlife here for any and every one looking to have a good time. I always rave about the clubs here in Sampa, but until you go to a few, you just.can’t.understand.

Most of the parties are genuine, lacking an uber-pretentious crowd and, without a doubt, given a deliciously intense soundtrack. Sao Paulo has some of the best DJs in the world, and last night did not fail to impress. The party was care of producer L_cio, who many of you may know from my interview with him after our meeting last year around this same time. His vision is called under_line. It’s a music collective and party series that covers underground (or well-known, but with an underground sound) DJs and producers who are adding something new to the club scene here in the city. The party serves as a showcase for multiple forms of electronic music artists and a venue to hold those of us who love them.

The vibe at Tapas Club (Rua Augusta, of course) proved that an underground does, in fact, still exist, and that there’s an audience out there willing to dance until the wee hours of Thursday morning to support it. While there, I had the opportunity to hear all the DJs beginning with Dee Bufato (who is a DJ, Producer, Designer…the list goes on and on), then Hero Zero, followed by DJ duo Guilherme Picorelli and Henrique D´Marte (known together as “Fractal Mood”), and last but not least, the creator himself, L_cio. The styles varied throughout the night from minimal to deep house, tech house, and back again, keeping everyone on their toes both mentally and physically. Though this was #39 of this party series, it’s definitely not the last as L_cio is as prolific an artist as he is a party extraordinaire.

For those of you who may not have a chance to check out the under_line party live, I’ll let the music speak for itself:

a silky deep house set by Dee Bufato:

a minimal mix by L_cio (recorded live at under_line #37):

a solid house set by Hero Zero:

a deep house/tech house live set by the boys of Fractal Mood:

– Retail DJ

 

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