Interview: Brazilian Carnaval’s 17 Year History and Celebrating 100 Years of Samba this Friday!


by Tom Nguyen

When I got a second chance to go back to college in OC at age 32, I joined the Pan American Latino Society, and some members took me to my first Brazilian Carnaval in 2007. Never had I experienced such an exuberant cultural affair. I was totally immersed and swept away by the sights, sounds and open hearts of the Brazilian community, and I’ve been trying to document cultural events throughout Los Angeles ever since.

I got a chance to interview Patricia Leao, founder of Brazilian Nites Productions, which has faithfully put on an authentic Brazilian Carnaval in Los Angeles the past 17 years and reminisce some more on its history, leading up to the latest edition this Friday, Feb. 24, at Teragram Ballroom, celebrating another milestone: 100 years of Samba!

EnClave.LA: Congratulations on 17 years! I’ve been going to your Carnaval for a decade now! My college friends in OC took me to my first Carnaval in 2007 when you had it on the Queen Mary. It was really my first introduction to not only the Brazilian community but ultimately to sparking my passion for covering LA’s diverse and rich cultural scene.

Brazilian Nites: Wow! This is nice to know Tom! A lot of times (most of them), the reward is exactly this…people like you becoming a follower of the culture of Brazil, as part of what we planted. And I agree, LA has an amazing diverse and rich cultural scene that is very authentic.

EnClave.LA: I know it’s a big labor of love each year for you and your team.

Brazilian Nites: Yes, it is! I take great pride in making it as authentic as possible.

EnClave.LA: What have been the highlights for you these past 17 years and why is it important to you to keep this tradition going in LA? Continue Reading →

New Music Discovery: Dom La Nena. LA Shows June 1-2


(UPDATE: 5/31/13: Just saw my blog featured on Dom La Nena’s Facebook page where she says these shows are her very FIRST shows in the US, so you definitely don’t want to miss them!)
Thanks to KCRW, I just discovered Dom La Nena who was born in Brazil, lives in France and studied cello in Argentina. Her music is as intricate as her upbringing, spanning 3 countries, 3 languages and an early calling to the cello. Born Dominique Pinto in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Allegre, Dom started playing piano around age 5 but very soon fell in love with the cello and wanted to devote her life to it. She moved with her family to Paris, France when she was eight so her father could pursue his doctorate while she continued studying cello. Upon returning to Brazil 5 years later, Dom could not find a cello teacher and started writing letters to acclaimed American cellist Christine Walevska, known as “the goddess of the cello”. With Walevska’s encouragement and her parents’ support, Dom moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina at the age of 13 to study with Walevska until she returned to France at age 18. Her song “No Meu Pais” exquisitely captures her uprooted life without any one place to call home.

Continue Reading →

Free Screenings of Contemporary South American Cinema at USC April 5-7

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April 5-7, another set of free film screenings open to the public at the USC School of Cinematic Arts will be showcasing recent cinema from South America. These films aren’t the most recent coming from South America and I’ve seen quite a few of them already, but from dramas to comedies to horror, this series is a good representation of the different genres of quality film and diverse stories coming from South America cinema. You can click on the film titles in the lineup to RSVP. Continue Reading →

Carnival’s not over yet! More hot Brazilian events this weekend and all month!

tumbe1(Update 3/12/13: Tonight is Quetzal Guerrero‘s birthday celebration at The Virgil…no cover! Samba Society plays The Virgil on Sunday, March 17. Come celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Brazilian style! Don’t forget DJ Potira is now spinning at 3 weekly spots on Mondays in Toluca Lake, Saturdays in Culver City and Sundays in Long Beach! Not exactly Brazilian but just as fun, she’s spinning a Throwback 80s night on Thu, 3/14.  Details below.)

I know Fat Tuesday came and went and Lent started on Ash Wednesday, but it got hot this week in LA! And when we’re blessed with bright, summery weather like this, there’s no better way to party than with the sun-worshiping, samba-shaking Brazilians! I have such a love affair with anything Brazilian so I have to share all these wonderful events this March, starting this weekend! Continue Reading →