By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city of Rio lost a precious part of its musical history last Monday, October 16th, when Centro Cultural Estudantina Musical (or Gafieira Estudantina) closed its doors after almost ninety years due to accumulating a debt of R$790,000 in back rent.
The house where Estudantina was established at belongs to the catholic institution Third Order of the Carmelites, who have been claiming the payment in the court since 2005.
Last Monday, Rio’s 28th Civil Court determined that Estudantina’s administration had to vacate the venue, situated in Praça Tiradentes, in Centro.
Estudantina’s owners were first told about the eviction notice in September this year. Due to the shooting of a soap opera in the venue, the owners managed to get a deadline extension.
“It has been a while the house is not making money. The crisis caught us for real”, said Paulo Roberto, Estudantina’s artistic director.
Gafieira Estudantina was founded in 1928 in the neighborhood of Flamengo, having moved to Praça Tiradentes in 1942. For a long time, it was considered the most important spot for “samba de gafieira” (the samba to be danced in pairs).
It started as a popular entertainment venue for the working class, but soon became a favorite place for middle class’ ladies who wanted to learn how to dance the gafieira.
Once a house that was all about samba music, Gafieira Estudantina recently embraced all the diversity Brazilian music can offer, throwing parties and offering dance classes dedicated to rhythms like forró, charme, funk, MPB, among others. Because of its Art Déco vintage architecture, many soap operas and movies have been shoot in the venue.
Having already welcomed international names like Mick Jagger, Italian actor Marcello Mastroiani and Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, Estudantina was declared a Patrimônio Cultural Carioca (Carioca’s Cultural Heritage Site) in 2012, having officially recognized the place as a cultural expression of the Carioca’s way of life.
“We need help. It is a cultural gem that is being thrown away. It is a disrespect to Rio’s culture”, regrets Paulo Roberto, who had to fire forty former employees of Estudantina. According to Roberto, the house might reopen in case there is some financial support of Rio’s City Hall, with whom Estudantina’s owners met yesterday, October 17th.