With all the ugliness that we humans inundate each other with, it can be easy to completely miss all the beauty. The human species is beautiful, we just have to stop and perceive ourselves that way. Even the drunk bum, spread eagle on the side walk, scratching himself with half open eyes, can be esthetically pleasing in a Dadaist sort of fashion. It just a bit harder to put yourself in the mind space to see him or her that way.
As ugly as it can be, sometimes Sao Paulo makes seeing the beauty in people easy. Today Rua João de Barros in the Barra Funda neighborhood of Sao Paulo was the host of the 3rd edition of the Mercado D’agô, a celebration of Afro-Brazilian culture, a miniature revival of Barra Funda’s black past and all around gathering of pretty people. Barra Funda was one of Sao Paulo’s historically black neighborhoods, according to event organizer Marcia Izzo. Real-estate speculation, like so many formerly poor or working class neighborhoods the world over, has pushed the former residential population to the periphery. Gleaming 30 story condos sprout like weeds in cracked concrete, at odds with a neighborhood that is still characterized by closet sized homes stuck between warehouses.
People I talked to told me Rua João de Barros used to be famous for its samba scene. Now the street is mostly silent. Only one place keeps the funk these days, Blue Space GLBT club famous for its drag shows. On this day however, the street was filled with the sound of Pérola Negra Samba School, the smell of Acarajé, little rowdy brown babies and smiling people. Candomblé, the distinctly Afro-Brazilian religion, made an undercover appearance in the guise of an awesome tent of children’s books which told the stories of the Orixas. African inspired clothing and hand cultivated herbs and spices were also on hand.
Once the band stopped playing, a DJ started playing black Brazilian music from the 70s. Women and children took to the floor and started line dancing, as if to prove that black people the world over are all only a few generations of cultural difference removed from one another. Old brown men with warm faces looked on from plastic tables as they sipped their beer. All was beautiful and right with the world.
Mercado D’Agô + by Akil Steamship is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.