Last night was crazy whirlwind introduction to the night and music of Salvador, courtesy my friend Anderson (who I met through Walter last week, and who is in Salvador this week for work). Ten minutes after arriving in Salvador, he texted me to invite me to a club / concert, and he and two friends came to pick me up at my hotel not long after. It turned out that the place we were going to was in my neighborhood, prob about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Getting into the club was a bizarre and Byzantine experience in itself. There were several different lists and hundreds of people crowding the entrance gates all pushing to get in. Anderson told me that b/c they didn’t have time to get my name on the VIP list, I was to tell the guy at the gate that my name was Bruci Veloso (or something like that) and flash my ID quickly so he wouldn’t check.
I almost never carry ID with me, especially not for getting into a club. In over two years of travel I can’t remember a single instance of being carded, but apparently here it was de rigeur, and so I told Anderson no problem, I would just walk back to my hotel to get it. He gave me a look that let me know he thought I was truly crazy, and told me that it wasn’t safe at all, we would need to take the car. I had heard that Salvador was the most likely place in Brazil to be mugged, but somehow this little safety tip really hit me in the face.
After coming back from the hotel with my CA driver’s license in hand, posing as Bruci and quickly passing my ID under the nose of the secret service type guy at the door, we headed into the club’s antechamber, where we were briskly frisked, and then passed to another list-reading series of windows to determine our eligability for various access wristbands and to give us the ubiquitous electronic card for the night’s drink purchases. By this time I should mention that we were covered in sweat, as it is VERY humid and hot in Salvador, apparently at all times. Finally passing inside to the AC room, I really did feel like a very important person standing by the air vent.
We started wandering around the place, which was a very mixed crowd, and Anderson explained to me that although there were straight people making out like crazy all over, the gays could never do that in a public place here. They could exchange phone numbers and see each other at a later time. He introduced me to a number of people, and there was lots of goodwill and smiles all around, despite the fact that I could hardly communicate at all with any of them. But here is the thing that I love about the Brazilians I have been meeting: They aren’t bothered at all. It is as if the will to communicate is far more important than the actual meanings of the words, and they (and I) just continued speaking Greek to each other and smiling. I even chatted with a handsome guy for about 45 minutes and exchanged phone numbers and made a plan to meet for coffee during my stay here. At least, I think we did. I couldn’t tell you at all one important piece of information about him since I couldn’t understand a word. But oh well, I was happy to have participated in the phone number ritual.
As we moved through the various rooms of the club, a lot of excitement was being generated, as the main event was about to happen. Everyone was so excited, because Netinho was about to go on stage!
Wait a minute, Netinho who? I asked.
You would think I had just punched someone’s mother in the gut, as Anderson and the group we were with gave me incredulous stares. How could I not know this guy? He is super famous! This is one of the things that I love about travel, running in circles you don’t normally and meeting or learning about “famous” people you have never heard of. The really great part of this is that I can separate the hype of their cult of fame and personality from the quality of the music. And I have to say, Netinho gave a great show and I really enjoyed the music and the energy of the crowd. And then he was joined on stage for a few songs by..Saulo!
(Saulo who? More horrified glances).
We stayed and danced and enjoyed the music until about 3:30, then went in search of a non existent restaurant, stopping instead at a scary gas station with a bunch of drunk kids loitering in front. After enjoying a bag of nuts and a little more conversation, they dropped me off at my hotel with a promise to hit the beaches this weekend. I will go in search of a swimsuit sometime today, incognito as Bruci Veloso of course.