Interview: 18th Brazilian Carnaval features 2018 Rio Samba Champion, Kids Matinee and more!

by Tom Nguyen

The 18th Annual Brazilian Carnaval happens next Saturday, February 24, at Cafe Club Fais Do Do! This year features singer Neguinho da Beija-Flor, direct from Rio de Janeiro, and I was able to interview Brazilian Nites Productions founder, Patricia Leao, who has been putting on the faithful reproduction of Rio-style Carnaval for almost two decades in Los Angeles.


EnClave.LA: Congratulations on another successful year of Brazilian Carnaval! What do you have in store for us this year?

Brazilian Nites: Thank you! Exited to have yet one more traditional Brazilian Carnaval that will celebrate 18 years with the very special presence of the Samba Star of Carnaval – NEGUINHO DA BEIJA FLOR directly from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil…I would like to say directly from Marquez de Sapucai to be more precise…This is where all the samba schools of Rio parade for 2 full nights competing against each other, with over 3000 dancers per school, amazing floats and special themes. 

We have extended our event to a Kids Matinee Carnaval…after all Carnaval is for everyone in Brazil. This will be from 2pm-6pm and then 8pm to 2am is our Carnaval Party.

We also have a “Market place” that will have food, crafts, giveaways, etc.

So Fais Do Do has three areas that will all be turned into a Brazil for a day from 2pm to 2am! Continue Reading →

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 →

14 Rappers, 14 Countries for UNICEF: Where are the Women MCs?

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by Tom Nguyen

Dear San E and UNICEF,

I was excited to discover your music video #HIPHOPISHIPHOP – Hip Hop for the World bringing together 14 rappers from 14 countries to express the unifying love of hip hop. I love that this video was made in the tradition of the iconic song We Are The World, to bring light on an important global issue: children’s access to education. Except for the venerable KRS-One, I love that I didn’t know any of the rappers. Thanks for giving talented rappers around the world a chance to shine!

Now, I ask…where are the women? I was quickly disappointed to see that out of 14 rappers, there was only one woman, YACKO from Indonesia. Why does this bother me? While every rapper in that video is talented and deserving and I applaud each of them, I have so many reasons for why this gender imbalance in your video upsets me.

Hip hop has historically been a very unfriendly and unfair place for women and it still remains so. Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia are big problems in hip hop songs, lyrics and culture. I’m afraid your video only reinforces the exclusion of women in hip hop. If We Are The World had better inclusion of women in 1985, I’m sure we can do better in 2015.

Since you are using hip hop as a platform for children’s education and your own statistics show that girls suffer greater disadvantage and exclusion from education in so many parts of the world, wouldn’t you have wanted to represent more women as role models? If you had included more women cyphers, I think your message would have been much more powerful and inspiring in your quest for gender equality in education.

After all, you released this video during Women’s History Month and right before International Women’s Day. I think you squandered a very good opportunity to not only address the inequality of access to education, but to also give strength to the message that the ones most affected by that inequality are girls around the world. You could have shown young girls everywhere that they have the same right and ability to succeed in any male-dominated space.

However, I have faith in an organization that is doing so much to achieve gender equality. We’re far from achieving equal human rights and opportunities for one half of the world’s population and it’s critical to keep empowering girls and women worldwide. There are no lack of girls and women on the front lines of society fighting for equality and freedom every day in every part of the world, and hip hop is no exception. In many countries, just being female, queer or trans in male-dominated hip hop is defiant and revolutionary. Below are just 14 of so many countless talented female, queer and trans rappers (in alphabetical order) who are not only rapping but doing so by challenging the status quo and giving voice to marginalized communities around the world. I hope you’ll consider them in a second hip hop video.

Respectfully,
Tom Nguyen

Continue Reading →

Mr. Pauer gives a taste of his new ORANGE album and Electrópico sound!

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by Tom Nguyen

What went down:
I got invited to a private BMI and Red Bull LA Vida showcase last week at Los Globos to see Mr. Pauer (pronounced like ‘power’) and didn’t know anything about him other than the invite notes:

A Latin Grammy nominated artist releasing a new album ORANGE, a spontaneous music exploration of his Electrópico signature sound combining 14 vocal collaborations from 5 continents with different cultural and musical backgrounds sang in 4 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese and Creole).

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IMG_2626Sounded pretty impressive and I had no idea what to expect. Mr. Pauer took to the small stage dominated by his percussion and electric drum setup, with Daniella Bertoldi by his side on keyboard. Wearing a bright flamboyant polka-dot shirt, underneath a screen of bright, mesmerizing tropical visuals, the affable performer proceeded to take us on a sonic journey that I couldn’t stop moving to until the music was over! Continue Reading →

Brazilian Day San Diego Sept. 7! Brazilian Day Los Angeles postponed until 2015!

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by Tom Nguyen

(Update 9/2/14Brazilian Independence Day Celebration in Hermosa Beach has been moved to Saturday, September 6, 2014.)

While the traditional end of summer for many is Labor Day weekend, for me the beautiful summer wasn’t over until the joyous celebrations of Brazilian Independence! I would look forward to a double dose of celebrations with both Brazilian communities in LA and San Diego. Alas, this year’s Brazilian Day Los Angeles festival has been postponed until 2015, due to a cut in funding and a rise in the cost of having it at the La Brea Tar Pits. However, the new leadership for the festival, which has taken place since 2006, has high hopes for finding a new location in 2015.

The much larger Brazilian Day San Diego on Sunday, September 7, touted as the biggest Brazilian Festival on the West Coast, attracts over 50,000 people each year and is always worth the drive down from LA! Blocks of Pacific Beach are closed on Garnett Avenue for the free, all-ages festivities and parade, and the friendly, energetic Brazilian community embraces everyone in the fun!

Continue Reading →

New Year’s Eve Parties in LA: Our Picks


(UPDATE 1/1/14: Happy 2014! Last night at Grand Park was incredible…18,000 people in downtown LA! We’ll have a review and video of the 3D projection up shorty but until then, enjoy the pics and also ones from the Brazilian party on the West side.)
We like our New Year’s Eve parties to be more intimate affairs with friendly crowds of Angelenos. We’re not going to be paying a king’s ransom to be at an obnoxious, uptight venue. Most importantly, we love events that celebrate the culture and diversity of our communities, offer great music and dance and are family friendly. Here are our recommendations for NYE, along with some interviews with the organizers to give you a good sense of what sets them apart as well as what they have in store for 2014. We don’t list events that we wouldn’t attend ourselves and we’ll be covering quite a few of them that night! Hope to see you at one of these, and wherever you celebrate New Year’s Eve, have fun, drink and drive responsibly, and thank you for visiting our new site this past year! Continue Reading →

DJ Potira Spins Infectious Booty-Shakin Baile Funk all over LA! Every Sunday and this week at Afro Funke and Bombilla!

(Update 8/7/13: Brasilia Sundays is on hiatus until a new location.)
One of my favorite DJs in Los Angeles by way of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is DJ Potira! She earned the nickname Potira which means “Warrior Indian Girl” through her dedicated practice and teaching of capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, and believe me…the title is well-earned! Not only does she kick ass on the mat, Potira brings the same feisty fierceness to the dance floor with her signature Baile Funk booty-shaking beats!

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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.

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Newport Beach Film Festival Film Showcases & Galas April 25-May 2


Having grown up in Orange County, I’m proud to say one of the most dynamic and well-run film festivals in Southern California and OC’s largest one is the Newport Beach Film Festival and this year’s 14th annual festival runs Thursday, April 25 – May 2. They screen an enormous amount of films in a week in many categories: Features, Documentaries, Action Sports, Shorts, Art, Architecture and Design (AA+D), Environmental, Music, Family, Youth and Collegiate. This year, they’re also partnering with the OC Music Awards to feature music videos. My favorite of the festival are the Showcases spotlighting films from different regions of the world, followed by a gala parties in the beautiful outdoor courtyard of Fashion Island in Newport Beach. These after-parties offer hordoevers  from select area restaurants, drinks by Absolut and Stella Artois, and live entertainment and are well worth the additional ticket (Discount tickets for some of them available below!). The OC Weekly has a good run-down on this year’s festival and here are the showcases: 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 →