By Raul Winson, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Last Friday, April 16th, saw the opening night of a new venture in Botafogo run by five expatriate DJs looking to leave their mark on the city’s nightlife. The Botafogo Social Club – a homage to legendary Cuban ensemble Buena Vista Social Club – brought a crowd together at an iconic local venue.
The party was conceived as a vinyl-only event, harking back to the almost forgotten but still cherished music format, but the style of music became more central than the means by which it was to be played, paying homage to soul, samba, funk, disco and rare groove greats.
“But it was the venue that inspired the night rather than the other way round, which is maybe a bit unusual,” says Karl Rodgers, a DJ from the UK who has lived in Rio for three years. “A friend played a show at this space we’d never heard of in Botafogo and it had such a lovely classic feel to it that I knew we could do something different here.”
The venue is an unusual one, a cultural center on a quiet Botafogo Street that houses a renowned chair museum on the second floor. Run by Richard Valansi, a French architect with a passion for design, his collection of 1500 classic pieces is considered the biggest in Latin America.
Downstairs meanwhile, the bar and restaurant sees guests sit among classic black and white photographs and intriguing ornaments, taking a cocktail in the courtyard or getting loose on the dance floor.
Drafting in Jan Roldanus, owner of Greengo Production Company and an avid vinyl junky, Mike Frugaletti, a San Franciscan DJ married to fellow DJ Vivi Seixas, former London DJ/promoter Dan Markham and American graphic designer and DJ Tee Cardaci, the collective will host a regular affair on the first Friday of the month from May 7.
“I have done parties in Rio before like the carnival bloco at The Blue Agave, but they never had a considered musical policy or vision, perhaps to their detriment” Karl continues, “and sometimes its nice to go back to the classics and dig out some rare gems, and I’ve been able to educate myself a little more about Brazilian music.”
It was a feeling echoed by Tee Cardaci, who added “I’m generally booked to play house and disco styles out in the clubs so it’s such a pleasure to have a venue to share all this amazing rare funky music that I don’t usually get to play out.”
“We are lucky to have such an amazing ex-pat community in Rio. It was great to see even more connections being made on the dance floor… among our international amigos as well as the beautiful Brazilians that like to boogie with us!” He said.
The plan for the night is to invite a series of guests to each show, from trumpeters to drummers, pianists to guest DJs, adding layers to the framework that the five residents lay down. As DJ Dan Markham added, “When you absolutely, positively have to get funky, and I mean really funky, then look no further than the BSC!”
The Botafogo Social Club takes place on the first Friday of the month at Espaço Cultural Maurice Valansi, R. Martins Ferreira 48, Botafogo.