Brazilian festival enlivens North End


The North End came alive in celebration of Brazilian culture and music on Nov 12.

At 7:30 p.m. at the North End Studio A, Brazil Fest, an event full of dancing, music and mingling, was put on in support of local cultural group, Sambatucada.

Burlington-based samba street band Sambatucada is “a smaller scale version of the traditional community street bands found in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador,” according to their website.

The night began with traditional Latin American dance lessons taught by Fabio “Fua” Nascimento. Nascimento is a master of Capoeira, a combination of Afro-Brazilian martial art and dance.

Money from ticket sales went to paying Nascimento, and also to Sambatucada, ticket booth manager Alan Levi stated.

“It is really a showcase of Sambatucada,” Levi said as he handed out tickets. “They are big community organizers here. They perform in Mardi Gras parades, the gay pride festival, school graduations — basically, any festival in need, they’ll play.”

Although Sambatucada plays Brazillian music, only a few members of the samba street band are Brazilian. The rest of the 20 or more members of the group are simply inspired by Brazilian music and culture from their travels, Levi stated.

At Brazil Fest, band members played traditional Brazilian percussion instruments including the Surdo, a large, low-tuned drum, Caixa, a snare drum and Chocalho, a jingly rattle.

Colorful and loud, the event was like a large family reunion.  If you weren’t dancing, you were clearly not related.

The spacious studio quickly filled, with families of all ages gathered at tables or on the dance floor, which pulsed to every beat of percussion.

Many North Enders purchased plates of traditional Brazilian food at a buffet. Pots were filled with steaming Bobó Vegetariano and Bobó Frango, fresh from the studio’s open kitchen.

The stewlike dishes were full of coconut milk, cilantro, onions, peppers, corn and other veggies, characteristic of Brazilian cuisine.

As the music played, a person dressed in a life-size paper mache bull paraded around, dancing and often bumping into couples on the floor.

The dancing became increasingly tribal as Nascimento led the audience to the music, asking them to step forward and back rhythmically. “Shinkatoo, Shinkatoo,” he chanted.

Above the floor-level stage, shiny, colorful parrots floated, adding to the tangy, tropical atmosphere. 

The drumming leader of Sambatucada whistled to stop and start the music — each dancer and musician waiting for his command.

Dancing in a corner with her son, Hermaine Flannigan, a resident of the North End had come to support her stepson Jack Flannigan in the multicultural event.

“I think it’s so cool for him, my younger son, to see his big brother up there,” she said. “[Jack] is really interested in music in general and in trying everything out.”