Seattle's Nectar Lounge and Neumo's host Brazilian Carnaval parties with music and dancing. Musicians warming up for the events include Eduardo Mendonça, Armandinho, Dodo & Osmar.
First, the bad news: You missed one of the world’s biggest parties last weekend. Hundreds of thousands of people — many adorned in feathers and rhinestones, or hardly dressed at all — cavorted in the streets ’til dawn, took a nap and did it again.
So you weren’t (unless you’re lucky) in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador or São Paulo. The good news is that you’ve got great options for celebrating Carnaval right here.
Gorge yourself on the sights and sounds of an authentic Brazilian Carnaval at an annual event held by Eduardo Mendonça’s Show Brazil! A singer, guitarist and percussionist, Mendonça is joined at the Nectar Lounge by nine multi-instrumentalists and two dancers. They mix traditional rhythms with contemporary styles from across Brazil, to booty-shaking effect.
“[We use] many traditional drums mixed with horns, electric guitar and bass. That’s an unusual combination for those that know only the real Carnaval,” says Mendonça.
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“[There] it’s only drums on the street. Our intention is to take away all the stereotypes. For people outside of Brazil, it’s more often exposure to Carnaval from the South, from Rio, so they don’t expect how many different things we can bring in one night to this stage.”
Likewise, dancers won’t just be clad in feathers, but also wearing traditional costumes. Attendees are encouraged to join in. Worried you can’t dance the samba? Dancer Dora Oliveira will give a warm-up lesson during the show.
“It’s pretty simple — I ask you to enjoy yourself and listen to the music and dance to it … You’re just having fun, so that’s the idea,” says Oliveira.
Originally from Salvador, Bahia, Mendonça has been throwing a yearly party here since he fell in love with Seattle in 1994. He’s also the co-organizer, with his wife Ana Paula, of Seattle Center’s annual BrasilFest and one of four Washington State representatives in the President’s Music National Service.
“I go back [to Brazil] every year to recharge my batteries there and see what’s new in the culture, and come back to Seattle and share here with our community,” says Mendonça.
Oliveira, a dancer for 30 years and a four-time Carnaval Queen in Salvador, met Mendonça in high school. They represented Bahia with a large group in Carnaval. Last week she put the final touches on her costumes for the festivities in Seattle.
She and Mendonça share the dream of performing atop a Trio Elétrico in Seattle — a mobile stage that, back home, is followed by thousands in the streets. Maybe when it’s warmer out, Mendonça says.
Antonio Ribeiro, of the University District restaurant Tempero do Brazil, has a similar dream. When asked what he misses about Bahia, he says, “Family, friends, weather, beach, easygoing atmosphere … but, this time of the year, ‘pular atras do Trio Elétrico’ ” — “go jumping behind of the truck,” as he translates it — “is what I miss most.”
Ribeiro’s third Carnaval party at Neumo’s, Feb. 25, is headlined by members from a famous Trio Elétrico family, Dodo e Osmar. Four of the band members are sons of Osmar, one of the founders of the Trio Elétrico concept.
The bandleader, mandolin player Armandinho, has been said to give Jimi Hendrix a run for his money. Additionally, local samba troupe Tudo Beleza will showcase their sizzling moves to the sounds of Café com Leite, and Ribeiro promises the bartenders will be mixing proper caipirinhas — a cocktail flavored with sugar and limes.
To that, we can all say: “obrigado,” or thanks.