When a friend invited me to a “traditional Brazilian party”, the Festa Junina, I expected to find something like carnival, but I was instead introduced to a colourful, playful mixture of Brazilian flavours that I had not seen before.
“In your opinion, which is the biggest festival in Brazil?”, asked me Paula Daunt, one of the founders and organizers of Festa Junina Berlin. She answered her own question before I could even open my mouth: “Yes, it’s the Festa Junina! We celebrate it in the whole of Brazil every year, during the month of June, but very few people know this tradition outside Brazil. We dress up like countryside people, in patched up clothes, also wearing straw hats, fake freckles and piggy tails. We spend the whole day playing silly games, drinking, eating and dancing.”
And that is exactly what we did. As soon as I arrived and grabbed myself a caipirinha, a cute Brazilian girl dressed in the most colourful dress I have ever seen, cheerfully invited me to take part in the next game. “The mummy game will start in 2 minutes. You need a partner. Grab that roll of toilet paper if you are up for it. The first person to completely wrap his or her partner in toilet paper will be the winner.”, said Winny.
I confess I needed one or two more caipirinhas to be able to wrap someone in toilet paper, so I decided to stay out of that round, but watching people do it was hilarious! After about one minute of mayhem, and a loud voting process, we had a few half-wrapped mummies and one democratically elected winner, completely wrapped in toilet paper. After that their played the internationally known chair-dance, three-legged-races, tug of war, “balloon explosions”, and several other games that I could not really identify, but they seemed to be having a hell of a good time.
I must say my favourite game was definitely the “correio elegante”, or “cheeky mail”. The cheeky mail messengers spent the whole duration of the party delivering anonymous messages to people, sometimes accompanied by little sweets and presents. If you are interested in someone, that is definitely the way to go. “The hardest part of my job is to deliver the message without letting the recipient know who sent it. Sometimes they really insist on knowing who sent it, but this is the most important part of this game: secrecy” says Sarah Machado, the responsible for cheeky mail girls.
One element that is always a central point in any Brazilian gathering is the music, and that would not be different at Festa Junina. Beside the usual exceptionally groovy Brazilian sounds, mainly from the 60s and 70s, the Festa Junina DJs and bands play a lot of Forró, the traditional genre played in all Festa Junina parties in the northeast of Brazil. A traditional Forró band is composed of a combination of three instruments (accordion, zabumba and a metal triangle). Forró is danced in pairs, usually very close together, with the man’s left hand holding the woman’s right hand as in the Waltz, with the woman – and occasionally the man – being spun in various ways, although it’s not essential to spin at all.
After dancing a little Forró, and having one too many caipirinhas, I decided to stuff myself with the traditional Festa Junina food. The several different stalls sold all kinds of rich sweets, cakes and pastries, some made with corn, rice, tapioca, cassava, and all the things Brazilians have available at the beginning of winter, when they celebrate the festival. My favourite was definitely the Canjica, a type of fresh corn pudding, and also the cinnamon rice pudding. Delicious!!
After listening to so many different stories, having my eyes, ears, stomach, mind and body catered for, I was ready to go home, happy to have attended the party. It was 10 in the evening, and before I managed to put my coat on, a Brazilian girl comes to me and asks me loudly “hey, where are you going? aren’t you coming to the party?” Coming to the party? I ask. I thought we already had a party! She says with a cheeky smile on her face “yes, but the second part starts now. We are in Berlin so now we need to celebrate like Berliners do. We have 4 floors of electronic music from now util tomorrow morning. I don’t think you should miss that.”
I have a look at the line up and quickly understand what she means, while she talks a little bit about the lineup for 2012. “We have Voodoohop coming straight from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Voodoohop is a blended mix of the new Brazilian talent brought to Europe by Sonar Festival. The core of Voodoohop is crafty musician Psilosamples and the djing skills of Thomash, a crazy german scientist who settled in Sao Paulo and created Voodoohop. They joined forces with the most creative and exhuberant performers, video artists & dancers of São Paulo. Together created a synesthetic show working like a tropical cabaret : the music unites with lights, decoration and projections, performers and dancers contaminate the public. Be prepared for glitter showers and sound explosions! Their musical style is defined by the tropical psychedelia of Brazil, experimental avant-garde electronica and the hypnotizing groove of samba.”
From 22:00 onwards, Festa Junina and Robot Army (robotarmy.de) unite forces to keep the party going until they reach the 24 hour mark.
DeadFader will be celebrating his record release on Robot Elephant Records, and playing a killer live set, followed by a most awaited Ancient Methods Dj set, the Robots Herr Schneider, Kriek and Baeks, business as usual, some quality rave/breaks/old school with DJ Controlled Weirdness, the seizure inducing set of Killerbomb, DJ Moocha and his fresh UK sounds, Huron, Axiom and Coan with some proper experimental shit, Sigma and her untouchable mixing skills, Lower Order Ethics and her deep, heavy, maverick selection of techno and industrial, Paula Daunt live with an ethereal, noisy live act (think Tim Hecker when he was 5 years old), and Projekt Gestalten coming all the way from Brazil mixing several styles live. Here’s the lineup for 2012 in case you have the energy to party for 24 hours with those mad Brazilians.
Bill Youngman (live)
Paula Daunt (live)
Lower Order Ethics
Projekt Gestalten (live)
Birdzzie & Agatha Barbosa
Visuals by The 29th Nov Films: https://www.youtube.com/user/the29novEDITS