Warm sands of the Nordeste

Travel

On a grey day like today I like to time travel and re-discover the place where the warm sun, sand and water give shelter. The winter has not even started in Europe, but it’s been incredibly cold for over a month or so. Patience is key, and so are the winter time escapes. In one month I will be travelling to Hong-Kong, but before I need to find a way to deal with the dark and freezing reality.

To cheer myself up, I refrain to the memories of February 2013 when I travelled to Rio Grande do Norte, precisely Natal, Tibau do Sul and Praia da Pipa, the capital of the region and emblematic seaside towns in the North-Eastern part of Brazil.

Not only the warmth of the sun, sand and water, but also the cheerful and relaxed nature of the inhabitants made this location a perfect winter getaway destination.

I was lucky to live in a small condominio of the Atlantic forest between Praia da Pipa and Tibau de Sul where I was woken up by the birds chanting, and oh well, some insects.

The location is perfect for the surfers and wanderers. Wide beaches are perfect to walk around in between the high tides, and when it comes, it is amazing to simply jump on the prancha (surf board) and try your best fighting the powerful water element.

Years have passed and I remember the smell of the salty water, the taste of the local cuisine, the view of the bonfires burning at night at the beach and the songs of the local vendors. I definitely plan to come back, possibly visiting the beautiful archipelago of Fernando da Noronha islands. Stay tuned!

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Alegria, alegria!

Music, Travel

Coming back from short holidays, I am quite puzzled if I really had to return to my usual urban life. Well, life is life – as one particularly insightful song told us in the 80s.

Thinking of some best moments of my life, I am normally reminiscing special people or places and this being especially helpful upon arrival to somewhat regular and down-to-earth reality. Undoubtedly, one of the moments of perfection I lived was in the North-Eastern tip of Brazil, on the outskirts of the city Natal, the capital of the Rio Grande do Norte region. Famous for its enormous dunes and never-ending, unspoiled beaches. Despite from becoming increasingly touristic destination, it has preserved most of its natural highlights.

I was lucky enough to rent an apartment on the Ponta Negra beach just at the tip of the Morro do Careca, the emblematic dune of the city. It used to be a lively spot for the locals in the past where they used hang out to sandsurf, but due to the risk of destroying the dune, the access has been lately cut off and the neighbourhood become surprisingly quiet.

These days, overlooking the sun or the moon in the Old Town port from my Barcelona loft, I often remember the magic nights of bathing in the Ocean, spotted by the moonlight, and burning torches from local beach bars where fresh caipirinha was completing the state of alegria. There are countless songs about this state of mind, but no one described it better than Gal Costa, in Pontos de Luz. Sun, the moon, the sky…

alegria – happiness

caipirinha – a popular Brazilian-origin cocktail, made of cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime

pontos de luz – points of light

Sambaloco – on the joyful side of drum’n’bass

Music, Travel

This time I would like to focus on the meaning that Brazilian artists had on the evolution of the drum and bass style. The discovery of the Brazilian d’n’b in my case coincided with the first clubbing experiences sometime around 2001. Based in the city half-way between Berlin and Warsaw, I remember these days were quite inspirational. There was an interesting drum’n’bass movement in the Polish capital, before the clubbing scene went mostly handbag, and it inspired some smaller cities like Poznań to create various underground places in the Old Town. It was also the year of releasing a very influential mix: DJ Marky’s Brazilian Job. I bet I heard it for the first time in the legendary Radiostacja alternative radio programme, in the late-night show ‘Drum and bass cały czas’ and it knocked me literally off my feet!

DJ Marky is already a living legend of the Brazilian electronic music, together with DJ Patife, Drumagick, and on a lighter note: Kaleidoscopio, to name very few who added an important value to what has already been discovered in the UK. The title of the post comes from a remarkable compilation which gave to the world some of the all-time relevant anthems like Fernanda Porto’s ‘Sambassim’ or ‘So Tinha de Ser com Voce’ remixes.

They firstly revolutionized the scene throughout Brazil, starting off in Sampa (aka SP, Sao Paulo), and later on in the UK (with DJ Marky’s residence at The End and recently in Fabric London). In the first decade of the 2000s Brazilian d’n’b became truly an exportation good.

Even if nowadays d’n’b became just a marginalised part of the ‘bass’ music, I still admire the unique style of combining the Brazilian classics with the energetic beats. The Brazilian d’n’b golden age was so powerful as if the music was to describe the high hopes spirits of those years. This spirit I found nowhere else, but in the North-Eastern region of the country, contrary to the statistics. Most of the cities in the region are still struggling with violence, uncontrolled urbanization processes and poverty, but each year the conditions are improving thanks to the economic development and the politics introduced in the era of the President Lula da Silva. To me, Brazilian d’n’b pictures the changes in the North-Eastern region, with some of the most impressive beaches, cuisine and weather for surfers on Earth, approximately 365 days of sun and wind per year and still, with some striking poverty and inequalities. In my humble opinion, Brazilian d’n’b, full of energy, yes-we-can attitude and creativity, should become a national musical product to share and promote the country, to top up with samba and bossanova.