Brazilian carnival vibes return to Shuiwei

Writer: Wang Haolan  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-02-20

Samba dancers perform at an alley packed with revelers during the Brazilian carnival held at Shuiwei’s Cultural Block 1368 in Futian District on Saturday night.  Lin Songtao

Shuiwei Community in Futian District was once again enveloped in a cocoon of joy and revelry as its Brazilian carnival, which has been on hiatus for about four years due to the pandemic, relaunched with buzzing vibes Saturday night.

The carnival was hosted by Brass House, a Brazilian-Dutch-owned bar located at Shuiwei’s Cultural Block 1368. The party was in full swing at around 8 p.m. as the samba parade kicked off. A barrage of colors and sounds filled the air as Latin music, samba dancers, marching drummers, a brass band and an acrobatic lion dance graced the area. International foods and beverages also kept everyone energized for the huge samba party which lasted until 2 a.m.

The Brazilian carnival comeback also overwhelmed Tiago Ferreira, the Brazilian owner of Brass House, but in a pleasant way. “We had been unable to hold events of this size for over three years due to the pandemic and lockdowns,” he said. “The last one we have done was in 2019.”

“It is a pity that many people from the last carnival, including one of the main samba dancers, had left,” Ferreira said. “But right now, we have new friends. Fresh people come here, wanting to experience the carnival.”

“I am looking forward to seeing the samba dancers and some old and new faces come to the party tonight,” said an Australian who goes by the nickname “JR.” “The local expat community here is still very much alive. We can finally have a fiesta and a big party to celebrate that some of us are still here,” he added.

A band prepares for their performance during the carnival Saturday night. Wang Haolan

Ferreira stated that relaunching the carnival was not planned, but a call from his Brazilian heart. “I was born and raised in Brazil. Every time when it comes to the carnival, the feelings just come – you need to go to the party, you need to have fun,” he said. “The event in 2019 was one of the best ones we’ve ever had, and I can finally replicate it in 2023.”

Ferreira’s sentiments were also echoed by fellow Brazilian Jordana Barrere. “The carnival is so wonderful,” she said. “We are glad to see it here again after nearly four years.”

The Brazilian carnival, with roots from a Christian festive season celebrated across Brazil 40 days before Easter, has become one of the greatest carnivals in the world. In Ferreira’s eyes, this event should not only be introduced to Shenzhen in its true sense, but also become a grand gala celebrated with the flavor from the local culture and people.

“A local lion dance troupe will join us in the parade. We can see here the infusion of Brazilian and Chinese cultures,” he said. “I want to bring some of my experience in Brazil to the local community and show a bit of Brazil to Shenzhen locals.”

Performers pose for a photo during the carnival Saturday night. Wang Haolan

“A Brazil without its carnival is like the Chinese drinking alcohol without saying ‘cheers,’” Ferreira recalled one of his WeChat Moments posts before the 2019 carnival. This is still his slogan for the carnival’s Shenzhen’s version. “Whether it is partying or saying ‘cheers,’ you can’t do it without friends. It is all about getting together.”

For Italian expat Sara Biancaccio, the carnival is like a post-pandemic celebration. “It is somehow surreal that we can drink and party together without masks,” she said. “I hope the future can stay like this, and maybe next year, I can be in Brazil for the carnival.”

Aside from getting together and having a good time, Ferreira also wished the carnival can at least make a slight difference in rejuvenating the local food and beverage industry. “I hope this event can also bring more business to the block and further motivate the other bar owners here,” he said.