November 18, 2007
Posted by: Chris
This is Gay Pride weekend here in Buenos Aires, where my partner and I are living for the rest of this year. My first reaction was to the small size of the event, since B.A. bills itself (repeatedly) as "the gay capital of South America." I would put the numbers at tens of thousands, certainly smaller than most big city Pride events I've attended, and a tiny, tiny percentage of the millions who filled Avenida Paulista for the world's largest Gay Pride, in São Paulo, Brasil, back in June.
The location yesterday was perfect, however, on the Plaza de Mayo, scene of Evita's famous speech on the balcony of the Casa Rosada. From that picturesque square, the parade proceeded through the Centro to the Plaza de los Dos Congresos. The event here in BsAs is called the "Marcha del Orgullo," or Pride March, and it did have a more political feel than the "Parada de Orgulho" in São Paulo.
There were political banners for the event's theme, "Equality, Liberty, Diversity," as well as, "The same rights with the same names," a direct call for marriage and not simply civil union recognition for gay couples. Still, drag queens dressed in wedding gowns, gyrating to "The Wedding Song" is unlikely to change many minds on the subject.
Gay marriage is a hot topic right now in Argentina, since the election earlier this month of Cristina Kirchner, the current first lady and a former senator. A prominent Cristina backer in the Senate introduced a gay marriage bill in the weeks leading up to the election, but gay Latino blogger Blabbeando has raised a number of legitimate questions about whether that support can be attributed to the prime candidate herself. Reading his analysis, Cristina comes off a bit like her cautious and calculating counterpart running for president back home in the U.S.
It's a mistake to judge a community by its Gay Pride, but overall I'm surprised that gay Argentinians are pushing for marriage. Moreso than in Rio or São Paulo, many gays here seem to be fairly closeted, although many would have you believe they are post-gay rather than pre-gay. Perhaps a bit of both is fair, but it speaks well of the activists here and the political scene that gays can be a political force with such a (relatively) small visible presence.
More pics follow here and on the jump as well.
September 29, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Parabens e felicidades for The Week, the gigantic playground for gay nightlife here in São Paulo, which is celebrating its third birthday. My friend Marcos, who blogs (in Portuguese) over at Carioca Virtual, paid a visit last night for The Week's Angels party, a special event for the three resident DJs who have played a huge part in making the club what it is.
I know (bitter) American gays poke fun at the cult of the DJ, and the dance club scene in general, but for those who actually appreciate the music, DJs like The Week's residents João Neto, Renato Cecin and Pacheco make almost as much difference as whether you're attending a concert by Celine Dion or the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Any of these three Brasileiros could compete with the top circuit DJs in the U.S, whether it's Neto's high-energy Abel-esque set, Cecin's Lehman-esque upbeat lyrical beats, or Pacheco's Rauhofer-esque aural journey. Renato Cecin has single-handedly made my night on multiple trips to the week with his uplifting beats. João Neto bring his infectious energy to the DJ booth when he spins, and is as adored by the guys here away from the turntables as he on them. (I profiled João and The Week a couple of years ago for the Blade.) It's great to these three in the spotlight, which often gets diverted by the "international DJs" who are invited to play at The Week. Parabens, caras.
A special congratulations also to André Almada, whose drive and creativity would leave most American club promoters in the dust. The concept of The Week is in part that it changes week to week, no easy proposition for a club of its size and popularity. You know how fickle the queens can be.
I couldn't help thinking last night that Almada had once again outdone himself, with an extraodinary set-up for the Angels Party and tonight's big birthday party, featuring my favorite transgender Israeli DJ -- actually my favorite DJ period -- Offer Nissim (pictured here with Almada). I have zero doubt an amazing time will be had by all.
Don't expect any early posts tomorrow!
July 07, 2007
Posted by: Chris
Last night marked the arrival of The Week to Rio, as (my freind and) promoter-extraordinaire
André Almada debuted the Carioca version of his mega-club in São Paulo that is, hands down, the hottest gay club in the world.
For years, at least as far as the gay scene goes, Rio De Janeiro offered the "day life" — the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, juice bars, sidewalk bars like Bofetada — and São Paulo provided the "nightlife" — with New York-quality clubs and internationally known DJs. With the exception of New Years, Carnaval and the occasional Revolution or X-Demente party, Rio gay boys and the bazillion gay tourists found the pickings surprisingly slim.
The arrival of The Week was big news in Rio, and not just for gays. The A-list magazine Veja-Rio featured a story about The Week, and the growing number of out gay couples in the city, on its cover. The headline reads: "The mega-club The Week arrives in Rio and adds to the city's list of attractions, which welcomes gay people without prejudice." A bit of hometown-hype/wishful thinking as far as Rio goes, but it's a nice goal anyway.
If last night was any indication, the club will live up to its hype.
The Week-Rio is a bit smaller than it's Paulista sister, but still by far the biggest regular gay venue in town and with plenty of room to grow, including an outdoor area that's rumored to be the future site of a pool, like the one in São Paulo. The interior is reminiscent of the São Paulo version without being a copy. Add in laser lighting and feather-clad go-go boys, and you've got The Week's signature look.
It's curious to see Almada open The Week in Rio — with talk of additional locations in Florinapolis and elsewhere — just as the mega-clubs in the U.S. die off, one by one. To my mind, The Week is the answer to a not-so-hypothetical question I've heard on dance floors back home in the States. What would have happened to the party, if it hadn't been killed off by crystal meth?
The answer? Come to Rio (or São Paulo), where Tina has never been welcome to the party, and find out for yourself.
Update: The Week's second night in Rio was even better than the first: bigger crowd, higher energy level, cool video screens on the back wall of the dance floor, and powerful sets by São Paulo DJ Flavio Lima, who I can tell will be a new favorite for me, and visiting American DJ Eric Cullenberg.
This Friday will bring Boy George to the turntables at The Week, just in time for the arrival of the Pan Am Games here in Rio. Let's hope he's on his best behavior, given his recent run-ins with the law and the press. On second thought, a bit of mischief could be fun as well. His Karma Chameleon-ness will be spinning alongside The Week's São Paulo resident DJ, my friend João Neto.
Check out this video for a view from the stage of The Week-Rio and DJ Flavio Lima:
Follow the jump for more photos:
October 27, 2006
Posted by: Chris
And now for something completely different… After all, life is about more than politics — even for a junkie like me. In fact, one of the great discoveries about myself that I credit entirely with accepting my sexual orientation is, drum roll please, that I love to dance.
Not exactly profound, you say? Then my guess is you don't share my passion for the dance floor. I've always loved all kinds of music, but the disco years weren't kind to my adolescence. I still remember with a mental grimace trying out my best John Travolta moves in 7th grade, only to earn stares from my classmates in Germantown, Tenn. I guess a gawky blond couldn't channel a suave Italian-American, though he and I apparently do have some things in common.
Fast-forward almost a quarter-century, and I've come to see the club scene — done right — as a treasured cathartic, tribal and just plain enjoyable way to spend an evening. "I take my problems to the dance floor," and when I hear Inaya Day belt out lines like that, I just can't help following her from the sidelines and into the action.
Unfortunately, the scourge of crystal methamphetamine (a.k.a. "Tina") has almost ruined the party scene in the U.S. We saw it happen close up in Washington, D.C., where the big weekly gay dance party, Velvet Nation, fell victim first to a changing scene and second to the construction of a new Major League Baseball stadium.
DJ Ed Bailey — who went to Vanderbilt University the same time I did — was the music man behind Velvet Nation's success, and he described the downward spiral much more eloquently than I can, in an interview with MetroWeekly:
It was always about the music and everyone coming together to be inspired by the music. There's something about that that's kind of tribal. That was intoxicating to me. … [Then] in the middle of this run at Nation, it got a little stale where I wasn't feeling it for a few years, where I thought the music became too dark. A lot of things have happened in our industry that have, I think, aided in [dance music's] decline — and the drug use is a big part of it. Whether the music is a reflection of the drug use or whether it's just a trend, the music just seems to be darker and deeper and scarier. It sounds meaner. It's not the happy, ''put your hands in the air'' kind of music of the '90s. …
By the time a song gets to a club, the music has been chopped up, sectioned off and partitioned into this or that, so that a lot of the musical quality has been lost. And that's unfortunate. I think it detracts from the overall spiritual experience. I know it sounds corny for me to say that, but I really believe it. When all you hear is thump, thump, thump all night where you used to hear a lot of vocals and pianos and happiness, it changes the environment.
Amen, Brother Ed! Fortunately, crystal meth hasn't infiltrated everywhere, and dance music that sounds like music still survives and thrives in Europe and Latin America. It's been a major upside to my self-imposed semi-exile in Brazil that I've been able to enjoy the scene there (actually here, as I write this). And no club I've been anywhere — in the U.S., Europe or anywhere else — can showcase the dance scene better than The Week in São Paulo, as I described in a feature article for the Washington Blade.
Follow the jump for photos and video from last week at The Week: