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South Salt Lake Journal

Dancing in the rain, Brazilian style! BAC brings another festival to South Salt Lake

Sep 08, 2022 01:58PM ● By Jesse M. Gonzalez

By Jesse M. Gonzalez | [email protected]

The Brazilian Arts Center (BAC) had another event this year on Aug. 6 at The HERC (Hip Hop Education & Resource Center) in South Salt Lake. Summer Festival was organized by Carla Locatelli and Jessica Hunt to celebrate the summer in an artistic Brazilian fashion, decorated with food, drink, dance classes, live music and capoeira martial arts for not only the local Brazilian community, but for everyone else as well.

However, things took a turn as the gray sky delivered a downpour of rain, causing mild flooding in the area around South State Street. Many thought that the festival would have been canceled, as an enormous puddle, resembling a small pond, gathered in the middle of the large paved section in the back lot of The HERC.

“There is a Brazilian expression called ‘gambiarra.’ It means to improvise a solution,” said Clara Zioli, who is a Brazilian native now on a summer internship in Utah. “And another thing called ‘jeitinho brasileiro’—the Brazilian way of doing things. We make it work.”

Indeed, the Brazilian community, as well as other guests in attendance, did make it work, even with a band playing under a canopy tent with amps, wires and other musical equipment to entertain the guests. The Brazuco Band played a lively, engaging performance and not once did they think to stop the show.

“Their sound technician bailed on them at the last minute,” said Jessica Hunt under another canopy tent in front of the band. “But there was a guy here who happened to be a sound tech and he helped the band a little with the rain, but he told them that it’s like putting your tongue in an electric socket.”

Regardless, the Brazuco Band was dedicated and determined to finish their set with or without rain. The rain also didn’t stop the festive guests, who could be seen dancing in the rain, in the puddles barefooted. 

The vendors, ranging from Brazilian made jewelry to desserts and handmade art, still resided under tents, making sales and socializing with those outside and inside of the Brazilian community.

Unfortunately, some activities had to be canceled due to the excessive rain. A Brazilian style dance class teaching forró, a musical genre with roots from northeastern Brazil, was among those special activities, as well as a capoeira class, a martial art which utilizes both dance and gymnastic movement for the purpose of self-defense.

“I was so excited for capoeira,” said Zioli with a slight hint of disappointment, though still echoing the words “jeitinho brasileiro.” Zioli stood in line of a vendor serving local Brazilian food, with two friends, both Salt Lake City locals, by her side. She was set to leave the following day, back to Iowa where she is currently studying in a university.

“Since I’m leaving [South Salt Lake] tomorrow, those two people here are very special friends, and I won’t see them for a while, so that’s the special thing for me. This place is a good way to say ‘it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later,’” said Zioli.  “That’s my special memory.”

The lead organizer of Summer Festival, Carla Locatelli, left before the rain started to collect more supplies for the festival but was unable to come back due to massive flooding just outside of her driveway and around her street. Toward the end, vendors had started to pack up just a bit early to avoid a similar situation that Locatelli had found herself in. 

The Brazuco Band still played, and people still danced.

“I was expecting some rain but not that much,” said Nathalia Maduenho, a local artist who creates her own jewelry as part of her business, Colors of Brazil. Maduenho had packed up her booth but she was still happy with the sales and the success of the day.

Overall, the Brazilian Summer Festival was an accomplishment, regardless of how much rain had fallen. If anything, it brought out a certain energy in everyone, all celebrating the season of summer under the rain.

“I love these events,” said Maduenho.

“The Brazilian community is very strong here,” said Zioli. “Jeitinho brasileiro.”