Lost Sambista

A Brazil never seen.

Archive for the tag “posto nove”

Lost Samba – Chapter 17/02 – Posto Nove, Ipanema

Image

Ipanema beach in the 1970’s

The Hotel Sol de Ipanema faced the beach almost on the corner of Rua Montenegro (which has since been renamed Rua Vinicius de Moraes), and it was a convenient landmark where my friends and I could all meet up at the beach. One Saturday morning, Edu and I were sitting by the sea in front of the hotel when we saw a lanky but toned guy in his forties wearing a crochet thong and playing beach tennis. His presence and his scandalously minuscule bathing attire drew our attention and, after looking at him for some time, Edu turned to me and asked, “Hey, isn’t that Gabeira?”

Edu was referring to Fernando Gabeira, one of the former exiles who had been involved in the 1969 kidnapping in Rio of the American ambassador, Charles Elbrick. In his best-selling autobiography, O que é Isto, Companheiro?  (“What is this, Comrade?”), in addition to the insider’s revelations of the mythical world of a so-called “terrorist” organization, Gabeira declared in his book that during those “heroic” days he was actively bisexual, something scandalous for the left and for the right alike. Riding a wave of fame, Gabeira launched an alternative path for opposing the system that he termed the “politics of the body”. What he really meant by this is still debated, but a political statement that seemed to prescribe being true to yourself and engaging in a lot of sex as a path to revolution went down well in Ipanema.

Image

Fernando Gabeira in his thong.

Rio’s beaches had, and still have, an unofficial schedule and a territorial partition that allowed one to say, “Tell me when and where you sun bathe and I will tell you who you are.” At dawn, the fishermen from Copacabana now shared the coast with surfers, yoga and Tai Chi aficionados, while joggers and cyclists paraded on the promenade. Later in the morning, as when I was a child, the ownership of the beach shifted to families, encompassing children, mums, grandmas, nannies, dogs and all other sectors of Brazilian domestic life. Around midday, they went home and from then on the more interesting people who stayed on gave Rio’s beaches sub-divisions further definition.

In Ipanema, there were unofficial spots for bodybuilders, Jiu-Jitsu fighters and yuppies. Other stretches became known as an extension of the gay scene, there was a surfers’ point, an area for the favelados, one for white-collar workers, another for sex professionals (not coincidentally the same as that for tourists), and an area reserved for football players and their groupies. Then there was Posto Nove, the beach outpost attracting followers of 1960s and 70s lifestyles and ideologies.

After the Pier, the surfers point in the early 1970s, had lost its usefullness, trawlers and cranes had done the job of demolishing the structure. From then on the Nove inherited the status of being the beach’s permanent Woodstock, the prime meeting place for artists, musicians, actors and intellectuals – both those already established and also those who never would. With the recent political freedom, came the flags of the newly legalized leftist parties flapping above the beautiful people. Meanwhile the boys from Batista’s improvised bar ran back and forth to serve beer, snacks and the tastiest caiprinhas found on any of Rio’s beaches.

There was a tacit understanding between the police and the beach-goers that they didn’t trouble us as long as we didn’t create trouble for them elsewhere on the beach. However, during election campaigns things sometimes changed when traditionalist candidates would push the police to clampdown on pot smokers, but when raids occurred, the crowd would boo them away and arrests were rare.

A typical day at Posto Nove was like being at a club or at a laid-back rock concert. Whether or not we had met before, we would chat between us about women, football and politics, and when the sun grew too hot or if the conversation became boring there was always the sea enticing us. As the day wore on, we took long swims, did some body surfing and played beach tennis. When the sun started to go down people began leaving the beach. By five in the afternoon the oceanfront was much emptier and the atmosphere became more intimate and serene. The milder sun, the afternoon breeze, the peace that came after a day spent in the open air and the beauty of the place and of the people made the Nove a magical spot.

The beach sessions would end with everyone giving the sun a standing ovation as it slowly disappeared over the horizon. After that, we all went our separate ways, normally going home for a nap before heading out to one of the parties or gigs that we had talked about on the beach earlier in the day where our free-spirited, suntanned and youthful carioca tribe would reconvene.

back to first chapter                                          next

Image

Cariocas thanking the Sun for another great beach day.

Lost Samba’s new picture

Lost Samba's new picture

Check out what we are about on our welcome page and visit our Facebook page and our Tumblr blog.

Fernando Gabeira

If there is a person who embodies the recent Brazilian history from the perspective of Rio de Janeiro’s middle class, this person is Fernando Gabeira. Reporter, political activist, terrorist, exiled, behavior guru, politician, Senator and currently political commentator.

His career began in Juiz de Fora a town between the states of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro in the early sixties when the political turmoil generated by the military coup and the student demonstrations brought him to Rio de Janeiro. When the repression  intensified he and many of his friends went underground, trained as guerrillas and produced spectacular actions against the government.

Gabeira was part of the most dramatic one: the kidnapping of the American Ambassador Charles Elbrick. They hid with him in a house in Santa Tereza and ended up exchanging him for the freedom of companions and for the publishing texts in opposition to the regime in the media. The success of the operation meant that the secret police hunted him down with extra zeal; he exchanged fire with them when he was arrested, and was tortured while wounded.

He was in a group that the military swapped for the Swiss embassador during the 1970’s world cup. After passing through Chile he ended up in living France and in the early 80’s he received amnesty together with most political exiles. He then returned to Rio de Janeiro to begin his career as Brazil’s rock and roll politician.

As most ex-terrorists, outside Brazil he broke away from the organization he belonged to, the MR8, and embraced alternative politics. He published his memoirs in the best seller O Que e Isto Companheiro? Where he described his life as a guerrilheiro, and his “path to good sense” when he broke away from hard-core revolutionary Leninism. As the dictatorship faded away, in the early days of the “abertura poltica“, Brazil’s glasnost, everyone read his book where the points he lifted of doing a more personal and heart oriented revolution were embraced almost universally in the “inteligentzia” of Ipanema.

One detail of his book caused a big commotion in every quarter, he declared that he was bisexual at the time he had been a terrorist.

In Rio, The place he frequented the beach, the Posto Nove in Ipanema, became the hub of what Brazil was going to be in 20 or 30 years, a space of plurality and open-mindedness. Gabeira made it famous by appearing there in a crochet thong, the photos hit the media and caused a national stir; the gay pot-smoking terrorist, politically active with a liberation and green agenda.


His next step was mainstream politics, he was one of the founders of the Brazilian Green Party and run for several important posts, even President. As a politician he lifted controversial issues such as the legalization of marijuana, gay marriage and the regimentation of prostitution and is close to Marina Silva Brazil’s ecological champion.

Despite his alternative profile he is very popular and has been very close to be elected the Governor of Rio de Janeiro and its mayor in recent years and received the highest amount of votes a federal deputy has ever had in Rio, close to 900.000 votes.

Read more about him and this period in Brazil in Lost Samba.

Radio Fluminense FM, the Damned

The video above is a collection of radio vignettes which may seem random and puzzling for the uninitiated; for the initiated they will bring alive an exciting era of Brazilian rock, especially for Cariocas (people from Rio de Janeiro). These were the soundtracks of a generation and will ignite tons of memories, not only the sounds but the record covers compiled by the video maker.

Radio Fluminense was inherited by a rock fan who decided initially to do a sort of pirate radio. In the early eighties suddenly everyone was talking about a radio station that played all of our favorite bands: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull etc.. etc… etc…

We didn’t need record players or cassettes anymore to listen to the music we liked, and couldn’t get enough from it. Alas the party couldn’t last long and soon they were threatened by the record labels and were forced to change their style.

They resorted to playing a new generation of bands: the Police, the Clash, the Cure, Sex Pistols, Talking Heads, the Smiths, New Order and so many others that no one had ever heard about but who the music moguls had less problems with music rights, and who I suspect were cheaper to be played.

This was a divider of waters, from then on the bands of the seventies became old school and the new bands became the thing to listen to; the eighties had begun.

In terms of Brazilian music they did the same: they played a lot of new independent bands and launched an entire new generation of Brazilian bands: Titas, Gang 90, Paralamas do Sucesso, Blitz, Lobao, Legiao Urbana, Ultraje a Rigor, the list is extensive. The mainstream would take at least two years to catch up with them and would never get as close to that generation as “the Damned”.

They also were pioneers in having female presenters and in playing Reggae in Brazil. A friend of mine, Nelson Meirelles, was given a slot for the genre. Instead of reaching his targeted audience, the South Zone of Rio where the upper middle class lived he reached the suburbs where a great number of Afro Brazilians tuned into his programme and because of this for years he was the king of Carioca and would end up producing most of the big names of local reggae.

Radio Fluminense marked an era and was instrumental in changing the musical scene in Brazil.

The summer of the Tin

What you see above was posted by Marcos Telles in his great site Pier de Ipanema (www.pierdeipanema.com) focused on Ipanema’s surfer generation in the 70’s.

The video is about one of the most unbelievable summers in Brazilian history: in 1988 the Australian ship Solana Star set sail from Singapore loaded with top quality Marijuana. In order to dodge the attention they took an unusual route: they traveled around South America and then up the Brazilian coast heading to the US when the maritime police intercepted them somewhere between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Instead of allowing themselves to be arrested, in the lack of a better option, they threw their cargo in the ocean before the cops arrived. It happened that the weed was kept in tins which the currents took to the coast where surfers and fishermen recuperated them. The youth received the content of those tins like manna from heaven and the resinous and heavy scented weed provided  an unforgettable summer that some people find hard to remember 🙂

Following the Brazilian tradition of giving names to summers, the one of 1988 was the Verao da Lata (the Summer of the Tin).

The Circo Voador

I’ll still write an article about it, there is plenty about it on my book, Lost Samba, but I just could not resist posting the trailer of this film that must be fantastic!

Pedra do Arpoador

Image

If there is one place that can be pointed as the source of Rio’s cool, this is the Arpoador.

The huge rock is situated in the beginning of Ipanema and means harpoon thrower in Portuguese; it is named like this because fishermen actually hunted down the whales that roamed the coast of Rio de Janeiro from there.

In the late fifties and early sixties surfboards started arriving in Ipanema and the best waves were by the rock; it became the first hangout point for young people bearing looks that would be recognizable in this century; long hair, surfer trunks and bikinis.

In the mid seventies a Pier was constructed one kilometre away and stole the best waves and the coolness away.. Also, around the same time, buses started coming from the Northern Zone to the Southern Zone’s beaches and the final stop was close to the Arpoador. Slowly but surely it became the area where the “invaders” went and an uncool place to hang out.

The early eighties witnessed a revival of the Arpoador when the group Asdrubal Trouxe o Trombone (see my article about them) set up the Circo Voador (the Flying Circus); a venue that was to be the cradle of modern Brazilian rock.

Those days were short lived and the city council closed it down because of complaints about the noise at night.

In the nineties a skateboarding park was constructed next to it making it cool once again. The beach spot however remained a no-go area for the golden youth of the Southern Zone until recently when apparently it has revived as a trendy hang out point ( I haven’t lived in Rio for more than 20 years now so it’s just hear say,… can’t confirm it)

Lost Samba is available at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00791OM34

Post Navigation