The other day I took an Afro-Brazilian dance class with a few of the other fellows (if you didn’t know, that’s what us “gap year takers” in the Global Citizen Year program are referred to). We woke up at 6 am, and boarded a bus, thinking we were on our way to a Samba class. We arrived at Casa Luanda ready to dance our gringo butts off.
As the class started, we all looked around at each other and began to bicker. “I think I had Samba all wrong,” I whispered to a fellow next to me. Both of us chuckled, struggling to keep up. The dances seemed so easy but so confusing all at once. The Brazilian participants in the class were so kind. They did their best to help us out with moves and give us the spotlight when they felt we were showing some skill. Or perhaps, to laugh at our lack thereof. The instructor spoke no English. We picked up on what we could but mainly just followed the actions that she was doing. I had never laughed so hard. I tried my best to stay at least semi-serious as I felt my laughter may come off as though I am taking the class as a joke… and that was the last thing I wanted.
After the dance portion of the class, everyone in the class sat in a circle and got instruments to learns some percussion techniques. It was… interesting to say the least. Sort of reminded me of elementary school when we were given instruments to play back in music class. Good times. We learned different beats and songs and let loose. The fellows and I struggled like mad with to keep up with the Portuguese lyrics but tried our best to follow along. We sang one specific song at least 10 times. You would think that after the first few times we would have mastered it. But nah. Nah.
After the class was over, I sat and thought about what I had just participated in. Before moving to Brazil, I had never even heard of Afro-Brazilian music, let alone participated in a class. I probably wouldn’t do it again, but it was a nice experience at the least.