My Experiences of a Night in the Favelas

When you hear about the Favelas in Brazil it is usually negative press. Favelas are areas of high crime, poverty and extreme violence. That is one side to the favelas, the other side offers you a unique look into the lifestyle and culture of how the majority of Rio’s population lives. On my arrival I was warned against going to the favelas by myself, advice that I obviously took on board and decided the safer option would be to do it as part of a tour. However having spent a day in the largest and most brutal Favela in Rio called Rocinha it didn’t put me off a return visit, if anything it intrigued me. So that night I decided to go to the famous ‘Favela Funk Parties’ so many locals tell you about. Despite being slightly apprehensive at first it turned out to be one of the best nights I have ever had.

Myself and three others from our hostel decided to brave the funk party and the first notable thing we spotted having left the taxi was the bouncer at the door to the club was carrying a huge gun. Not the warmest of welcomes and a sudden panic then hit home, what were we doing here? We nervously handed over our entrance fee and wandered into the club. All of a sudden a wave of noise hit us, unlike any music we are familiar with in England. The best way to try to describe Funk music is by saying it’s a combination of electro, soul, jazz and R&B music all mixed into one. The Brazilian flag colours of yellow, blue and green were painted onto the walls and draped over the bar areas. Accompanied with the coloured lighting from the ceiling it all lit up the room to reveal such a diverse group of people, all there sharing the same passion to dance. Everyone seemed to dance effortlessly in perfect sync with one another, something that was incredibly hard to follow for a British guy.

All of a sudden the threats of violence and constant reminders of extreme poverty were forgotten. The social classes so prevalent in Brazil were no longer recognisable as this diverse nation forgot about its issues and partied together. No signs of any weapons or violence which you get warned about by all travel companies and guide books. Even the clubs slightly dirty appearance gave it a bohemian charm.

Five hours of continuous dancing passed and the club closed at six in the morning. As you walk out into the light for the first time it suddenly hits you that the world you get lost in when in the club is a stark contrast to the reality outside. If I had seen where the club was in the day I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have decided to go there that night. In the heart of the Favela we walked out on to a poverty ridden street with people offering anything ranging from drugs to prostitutes. The club seemed an escape for the residents here, a night out partying to forget about the trials and tribulations they suffer during the day. I left the Favela having never felt in any danger and left with a great level of admiration for the locals.

People will always have bad experiences to counter the good ones in a country like Brazil. With so much poverty it’s only natural for people to feel on edge and they have a right to be. Despite its many beauties Brazil is a country with issues. But for this one night it was a celebration, the celebration of life and what it feels like to be Brazilian.


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