(WARNING: Disturbing image in link at end of article)
A Funk DJ in Belo Horizonte was shot dead outside his house in Pampulha last night by two motorcyclists that rode past him, confirmed it was him and then circled back to open fire. He was shot ten times and died at the scene.
Although police say they don’t know the motive for the killing, rumours are that DJ Paulinho was mixed up with the wrong girl – a girl already attached to someone dangerous. His death could have been as petty as that – seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?
The worst thing about it is that this motive has been seen before in the Brazilian music scene.
The rumours echo the murder of MC Daleste a few years back, a huge Funk star making $60,000 a night when he was murdered (reportedly by cops) live on stage. MC Daleste was supposed to have been fooling around with a girl attached to a big drug-trafficker. For that, he was killed.
DJ Paulinho wasn’t a mega-star DJ in Brazil, but he had enough sets that he would work the local Funk circuit in Belo Horizonte, and he’d toured in the US, Portugal and France. He had a song called “Vai Paulin Vai Paulin” which got pretty famous.
How do young Brazilians show off in a country riddled with poverty, where Brazil’s richest 10% earn in one month what the poorest 10% make in more than three years?
You’re going to need designer clothes, sunglasses and sneakers to show you’re not just a favela kid, that you’re ambitious and going places.
Buying designer clothes and jewellery – rather than saving your money or moving into your own place (many Brazilians live at home until they marry) – is the most economically-astute way of showing off your wealth in a country like Brazil, because more people will see your clothes than the inside of your house.
Spending money on ostentatious clothes rather than more subtle indicators of wealth like learning another language or saving up for rent helps to coin in that delicious “status” currency that Brazilians need to get by.
So here’s what you need to be wearing if you want to fit in with the Brazilian kids.
1) Hollister, Quiksilver or Abercrombie shirts. They must have ludicrously large lettering spelling out designer names, and the badge has to be a few times larger than normal.
2) Mirrored sunglasses in either blue, red or rainbow.
3) Neon, candy-coloured Nike or Adidas trainers. Keep them clean.
4) Multi-coloured braces. All Brazilians want perfectly-straight teeth, and if you’re going to wear them you may as well rock it.
5) A cool baseball cap, the peak straight, hanging half off your head.
And you’re ready to hit the streets. Or the night-club. Or church.
The celebration of designer clothes, cars and alcohol aimed at the poorest members of Brazilian society all links to music like Funk Ostentação (Ostentatious Music) in Brazil, where ostentation is applauded and encouraged, even when the money you’re throwing around is fake.
Here are my observations on Brazilian nightclubs, having lived here as a foreigner and been taken out many times over the years.
1) Going out to nightclubs in Brazil is EXPENSIVE. Expect to spend R$200 to R$400 (£110, US$160) on an average night out for nightclub entry, drinks, taxis and late-night food. It’ll cost way more if you’re in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo.
As an example, entry into a nightclub might be R$40 if you don’t drink, or R$100 for the opportunity to drink (not free drinks, just the permission to drink). On top of that, cocktail and spiritss might be R$17 with a beer about R$12.
2) You queue to enter the club… and you queue to exit. Most nightclubs give you a drinks-list card when you enter, which you use to “pay” for drinks during the night. Barmen NEVER accept cash or card. Instead they mark what you order on the card and you pay at the end at a register near the entrance. It takes ages, so get in the queue early and pay for your drinks, then carry on dancing until they kick everyone out. But remember, you can’t have any more drinks once you’ve paid.
3) If you lose your drinks-card you’ll pay a HUGE fine at the end of the night when you try to leave. I’ve seen threats of R$1000 (£250, US$350) written on the card. This is to stop people drinking the bar dry and then “losing” their card to get out of paying.
4) DO NOT LOSE YOUR DRINKS-CARD. I can’t stress this enough.
5) It’s common for a Brazilian guy to start kissing a girl in a nightclub with the minimum of talking, like teenagers at their first roller-disco. Just don’t be surprised if they’re kissing someone else at the end of the night. Kissing doesn’t have the same value it has in Britain or America. In a Brazilian nightclub, kissing is as intimate as a hug.
6) I almost guarantee the music in a Brazilian nightclub will be Sertaneja (two guys crooning love songs), Forró (Swing dancing, pronounced “Fo-ho”), Pagode (Samba-dancing, pronounced “Pagojj”), Funk (Favela rap with a cha-cha-cha beat, pronounced “Funky”), crappy UK and US pop music or electro.
7) Learning to dance a little will not steer you wrong. Brazilian girls are very approachable and they will enjoy you teaching them something cool. I can’t dance but my friend can, and the girls love him.
8) If a girl is not with her boyfriend in a night-club then she is (almost certainly) single. Same for guys. Brazilians with boyfriends and girlfriends do not go to nightclubs, and Brazilian couples rarely go out together, unless it’s a special event like a Forró dance.
9) If you have been talking with a girl or guy for more than two minutes in a nightclub you are expected to kiss her. “Why are you talking to her if not to kiss?” is the reasoning behind this.
If a girl or guy does not want to talk to you do not press the issue.
10) Most big nightclubs let you choose between paying just for entry, or entry and free drinks all night. The first option might be R$20, the second might be R$100. You get given your drinks-card and it will be marked with the option you chose. Remember, bar-staff don’t accept cash, so choose carefully.
11) Some nightclubs don’t offer “drink-all-you-can”, and so you have to queue up at a little booth and buy tokens. It’s a security issue, to keep all the cash in one heavily-secured place, and to stop barmen from stealing it.
12) You will be patted down or made to walk through a metal-detector when you enter a Brazilian nightclub. Leave your guns and knives at home.
14) You can get VIP in most nightclubs if you’re willing to pay a little more. Girls can go in and out of VIP areas but guys will need a wristband. You’ll have bottle service and you’ll get lots of attention, blah-blah-blah.
15) You’re a gringo, a tourist, a foreigner. You may get lots of attention by virtue of this, but keep it respectful. Brazil is a dangerous place to get really drunk and start fighting or being rude. Enjoy yourself, have a few drinks and go back to your hotel at the end of the night.
Please take all advice about picking up Brazilian guys and girls with a grain of salt, I don’t want you thinking Brazilian men and women are constantly “lookin’ to score” (like certain Adidas executives believe).
Uphold the same values and respect you have for the opposite sex in your own country. Brazil is no different to other countries, despite over-sexualised, cartoonish media imagery that portrays Brazil to most foreigners as a land of sun, bums and caiprinhas.
This is completely the wrong perception to take with you when you travel to Brazil, and one that will get you slapped.
Money, luxury and showing off. “Funk” music coming out of São Paulo is all about being ostentatious (“Ostentação”) with your wealth, and that means designer clothes, imported cars, nightclubs and women.
Watching Funk Ostentação on Youtube is like watching 90’s American rap videos; singers throw champagne around in fake nightclubs, walk in front of expensive (hired) cars and hover-hand strippers that dance as if they’re not sure if the director yelled “Cut!” or not.
With lyrics that highlight an ambition to leave the favela and live the good life of women, nightclubs, cars and jewels, Funk Ostentação singers are self-fulfilling dream-makers. Videos on Youtube showing them counting fake US dollar bills and standing in front of expensive imported cars now make them tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue, and the biggest Funk Ostentação stars charge R$10,000 (US$4,000, £2,700) a show.
Four other Funk Ostentação MCs have also been shot dead, supposedly by ex-police “grupos de exterminio”(death-squads) targeting rappers with anti-police lyrics, although my sources tell me MC Daleste was killed for stealing a woman from a dangerous drug-trafficker. These rappers have gained a form of respect from even the middle classes, who normally scoff and talk about the hyper-sexualised lyrics of Funk Carioca music.
When an 18-year-old kid that used to wash cars is pulling in 10x more than a middle-aged doctor makes in a year, and goes on stage every night despite the threat of getting shot dead, how can you not stop and admire their bravado just a little?
News articles, videos and images looking at life and living in modern Brazil.