One and only Brazilian/African music community in Korea

Reflecting my 2015 Summer…

Once a week, you need Escola Alegria

Originally wrote in Burnams :
Roda de Samba parties and African parties

Website for Escola Alegria&Koule Kan

Every saturday, or at least every other week, Escola Alegria turns into a bar from the dance/music/Brazilian Portuguese workshop space. Definitely not like a creepy night club or something. Here, it’s BRIGHT, PLAYFUL, MUSICAL, and BEAUTIFUL. This basement studio is usually used as an recording room, dance workshop studio, batucada (parade samba music) practice studio, and etc. But whenever there’s a weekend party, we prepare home-made Brazilian or African food and put on some color gels onto the lighting bulbs. We decorate the tables and the stage as well.

There are 2 types of parties that happen in Escola Alegria.
Brazil Party is most frequently hosted; the biggest one among brazil parties is Roda de Samba, which means the circle of samba. The name is originated from the group of neighbors (forming in a huge circle) playing samba in Brazilian villages.
Like its name, in Escola Alegria’s Brazil parties, Brazilian musicians and Korean musicians make a circle and play the music together. Audience seats are surrounding the singers, so the singers are in the middle of the space. People freely walk around, get some Brazilian cocktails or Acai smoothies from the bar, and dance to Brazilian rhythms. Valtinho is the main leader of the band that plays music in every Roda de Samba parties. He is a world-recognized musician in Brazilian music industry. He always welcomes the audiences like a Papa and tries to engage them into the music with sweet interviews and comments.

Another party is Africa Party which happens every month. Two African artists from Burkina Faso, West Africa cook their home food, ti-ge-de-ge-na, which is a mixture of peanut butter sauce, chicken and some vegetables. The party start around 7pm and people chill and eat buffet for an hour. At 8pm, Amidou, a traditional West African musician, starts playing the music on the stage with one or two other Korean musicians.

Every time in the party, newcomers are surprised by the refreshing and crystal clear sound of Balafon, one of Amidou’s main instruments. It almost purifies people’s minds and make them relax. Balafon has been used in West African countries by special musician class. It was their communication tool — it was more than just a music. Musicians change the language into musical sound — delivering the messages through Balafon. And that’s the power of Balafon, attracting people through its magical power.

After 2 hours, Emmanuel makes an empty circle space in the middle of the studio and starts dancing. His long legs and arms catch people’s eyes every easily. And his body is undoubtedly full of well-trained dancer’s muscles. His moves are free, large, and happy. He always gives his happiest face while dancing. People are drawn to his energy and even the ones who hate dancing, start to follow his movements. He joyfully drags people into the circle one by one. He always wants to give energy and confidence to people, especially the reserved ones.

I watched these parties several times while serving the food, cleaning the kitchen, and taking photographs and videos. Every time, I gained the explosive energy. My friends who weren’t even interested in such events came and couldn’t leave the party even after it was over.

Escola Alegria is always open to people and wants YOU to enjoy life — don’t forget the happiness covered by the stress and pressure from the society.


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