The Cooperativa is a place to go dancing. I had always heard about it from Mandy and from other friends who like to dance Forro, but I’d never been. Last night I went for the first time, accompanied by two of my friends.
Forro (kind of pronounced: “fo-HO”) is a traditional kind of dance, mostly from the interior of Brazil. Lots of people here call it caipira, which is something like from the country, backwoodsy, simple. (You can read about it here.) It’s really country and involves lots of two stepping and twirling. The man definitely leads and the woman has to trust her partner a lot to move and spin her around the floor. Most of the time last night, I spent just watching people dance. The really good pairs were the ones who could do all the spins and twirls like lightning, maybe eight or ten moves one right after the other and then fall back into the two step perfectly on time with the rhythm of the song the band was playing. It was awesome. As much as it makes me cringe to say this, the best pairs were the ones where the man led confidently and the woman followed, bending to the direction of her partner. I could go ahead and make a connection between the dance and the Patriarchy, but I’ll let you take care of that one.
I like Forro much more than I like samba. I like to watch samba but I can’t get my body to move the way it needs to in order to dance it. It’s a beautiful dance and when people know how to do it, they can light up a room with their sexual energy. It’s the dance of Brazil and people mean business when they know how to do it well.
But I prefer the country nature of Forro. I like that it involves a pair, and I liked, especially, that last night the people were at the Cooperativa to dance. Not to pick people up or find girlfriends, although I’m sure there was some of that going on, but to dance. I could stand in a spot watching the others dance for a minute or two and without fail there would be a hand in front of me offering up a dance. It was a great way to experience a range of leading styles and I knew when I was dancing with someone who knew what he was doing. Some guys, one 23 year-old who told me he’d “always been looking for an American girlfriend” at which I promptly let out a “ha!”, would let me lead the dance. They let me set the pace and held my hand only lightly. It made for a disaster on the floor because it wasn’t fun. I wasn’t spinning, I wasn’t doing anything except dancing like I did when I was in 7th grade: awkwardly. But the others who knew how to lead confidently, spun me around, clasped and unclasped my hands from theirs during a move, told me how and where to place my hands so they could lead me through different moves. And because people were there to dance and not get all romantic with each other, I had no problem dancing with several people, walking away from the bad partners and agreeing to a second dance with the good ones. One guy got me so dizzy from all the spinning that I had to walk away from him because otherwise I would have gotten sick all over the place.
We stayed at the Cooperativa until probably 4 in the morning, after they RAN OUT OF BEER, and twenty minutes later, I stumbled upstairs and promptly fell asleep for most of the day. The weather today suits my mood–kind of hazy and quiet. It hasn’t rained here for so long and the sky over the past two days has been working on some kind of storm somewhere. It’ll probably show up later this week, on the day I don’t have an umbrella and have decided to wear all white. And then I’ll get caught and be soaked and see-through for the whole day. That’s just my kind of luck.