Rio de Janeiro: Few things say Rio de Janeiro like a “roda de samba” legendary jam session where musicians sit in a circle gushing out Brazil’s most beloved music and a tight crowd of beer-guzzling revelers surrounds them.
“We don’t sit in a circle anymore. We play on a stage in front of the audience,” said Moacyr Luz, 62, founder of the Samba do Trabalhador (Worker’s Samba), which held a Monday evening roda de samba (samba circle) for 15 years until the pandemic hit.
Luz, a giant of Brazilian music who is up for a Latin Grammy this year, said playing samba without a crowd was like a footballer scoring a goal without celebrating.”It doesn’t feel natural. But at least the samba is flowing. We’re living in a time of transformation, so everybody has to adapt,” the gray-bearded songster told AFP.
Luz and his band are just coming off a seven-month hiatus during which their only shows were online. This month, they began playing in the flesh again — with social distancing measures — at Renascenca, a famous club on Rio’s north side.
For true “cariocas,” as Rio residents are known, the effect is therapeutic.”Samba is part of Brazilian culture. It’s associated with so many good things: It’s the unity of a people, it’s the continuation of a tradition. It brings immeasurable happiness,” said fan Cristina Barreto.
“Being here is a matter of mental health. It feeds the soul and gives you strength to keep confronting all this.”