não existe amor em SP

Last night I went to see Brazilian rapper Criolo at Cine Joia. This was a momentous occasion for me, not just because I happen to be quite a fan of his, but because it signified 2 special moments for me. First, it was my 3 month anniversary here in Brazil (woohoo!) Second, I pretty much credit Criolo (in part) with changing my life. At the very least, I have to give him props for starting the chain of events that put me here in the first place.

Here’s the whole story.

Let’s go back to December of last year, when I was freezing my ass off in New York with my Brazilian roommate, Rodrigo. I was toying with the idea of visiting Brazil for Carnaval, but was still very much on the fence. One night, Rodrigo suggests to me that we go to a concert of a Brazilian rapper he’s into at a bar in the Lower East Side. I never really say no to anything, so of course despite torrential, frozen downpour, I grabbed my broken umbrella and headed out into winter.

I had about 12 umbrellas that looked something like this.

I had about 12 umbrellas that looked something like this.

When we arrived at the bar (whose name I don’t even remember, that’s actually how small it was), I realized that, of the 50 or so people there, I was the only American. Portuguese surrounded me and I felt a little bit out of place. We found more of our Brazilian friends, who were talking to a guy I didn’t recognize. Rodrigo leaned over to me and whispered, “That’s Criolo, the rapper we are here to see.” And there he was, just chatting with my friends, handing out free CDs. We talked to him for awhile (and by we, I mean, my Brazilian friends, as I knew less than “hello” in Portuguese at the time).

Criolo (blue shirt) hanging out with my Brazilian friends. (As the only one with a camera, I missed the opportunity to be IN the photo.)

Criolo (blue shirt) hanging out with my Brazilian friends. (As the only one with a camera, I missed the opportunity to be IN the photo.)

Around the time I was beginning to feel genuinely uncomfortable, Criolo left us to move toward the “stage” (a slightly raised platform in the middle of the room) and began his show. And then something happened I can barely put into words. If you listen to a Criolo song on tape (err… on mp3?), you can somewhat get a sense of the emotion he puts into his music. But this is absolutely nothing compared to the power and passion that comes through when he performs in front of you.

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And suddenly, I swear, I felt like I had been transported to Brazil. Everyone around me knew every word. I was completely mesmerized. I was surrounded by Brazilian girls dancing with their hips in a way that I simply will never be able to accomplish.

Unlike Shakira, my hips do lie.

Unlike Shakira, my hips do lie.

And right then and there, I whipped out my iPhone and booked a flight to Brazil. Thus, of course, putting into action the decision that would change the rest of my life, make me fall in love with Brazil, and bring me here permanently.

So seeing him perform on a proper stage and really put on an incredible show was really the best possible to way to ring in my 3 month anniversary in Brazil. But of course the best part was being surrounded by my amazing friends (whom I know can sort of understand) and feeling exactly in place. And I can say, without a doubt, that he is wrong about one thing. Existe amor em SP, sim.

And that is a real stage.

And that is a real stage.

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