YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Carnaval is about to burst to life in L.A.

February 20, 2009|Charlie Amter

Suddenly, Los Angeles is feeling a little like Sao Paolo.

First, two large Carnaval-related events will take place this weekend -- a festival in Santa Barbara and the annual Brazilian Carnaval at the Palladium Saturday. Then, a DJ-centric dance party dubbed Made in Brazil returns to Hollywood early next month after a well-received August turn at the Avalon, and automaker Scion is sponsoring an art exhibition of emerging Sao Paolo street artists at the Choque Cultural Gallery, which debuts Feb. 28.

Pre-Lenten celebrations called Carnival ("Carnaval" in Portuguese) are a grand and raucous tradition in the majority-Catholic countries of South America. This weekend, the party rages in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, which is famed for its massive annual fete that ends on Mardi Gras.

Despite the Southland's relatively small population of Brazilian nationals (estimated at "around 20,000," by Brazilian consulate officials), the local celebrations have become important and well-attended annual events.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, February 21, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 69 words Type of Material: Correction
Brazilian Carnaval venue: The Night Life column in Friday's Calendar section about the Brazilian Carnaval said an exhibition of emerging Sao Paulo street artists would take place at the Choque Cultural Gallery. The Choque Gallery is curating the exhibition but the show, which opens Feb. 28, is at the Scion Installation L.A. Gallery at 3521 Helms Ave. in Culver City. In addition, Sao Paulo was misspelled as Sao Paolo.

The largest and longest-running party, the annual Brazilian Carnaval returns to the Palladium in Hollywood Saturday after a multi-year-run in Long Beach aboard the Queen Mary.

"The Queen Mary was too restrictive as a venue," Burbank-based Brazilian Carnaval promoter Patricia Leao said from the Palladium during preparations for this weekend's blowout in Hollywood. This year, she expects more than 1,500 people. "It was small, but just like in Brazil, people are used to being stuck right against one another. Most people have really good memories [of the parties held inside the Queen Mary], and some preferred it, but many didn't know about the Palladium before it."

Indeed, back in the 1990s and even before, the annual hommage to all-things-Brazil took place at the Sunset Boulevard space, becoming an on-again-off-again Hollywood rite of spring.

"The whole festival started in the late 1980s," said Leao, a former dancer and native of Bolivia with an affection for Brazil. "2000 was the only year it didn't happen [at the Palladium]; then I took over and went to Long Beach."

And while the festival gained a following over the last few years in Long Beach (she and her partners are now in their ninth year promoting their Carnaval parties in the area), Live Nation's recent renovation of the Hollywood concert hall enticed Leao and Brazilian Carnaval organizers back to where the party began.

And what, exactly, will curious locals hoping for a taste of Carnaval-style revelry get this year at the annual event?

For starters, a live satellite feed of the actual Carnaval taking place in Brazil projected onto a large screen for the first time -- for that extra authentic feel. "Even though they are six hours ahead of us, [Carnaval-goers in Brazil] are still partying no matter what time we are here," she said. In addition, the ninth Brazilian Carnaval boasts samba bands, percussionists, a capoeira dance show and numbers by Viver Brasil dance company.

In contrast to the more traditional Carnaval celebration taking place at the Palladium, a semiannual affair known as Made in Brazil hopes to get a younger generation turned on to the current sound of Sao Paolo -- house music.

"In Brazil, we have a big electronic music scene," said L.A.-based dance music promoter Renata Amaral from Praia Brava beach near the city of Itaji earlier this week, where she is scouting local talent at Warung Beach Club.

"Most of the real Brazilians don't go to Carnaval," she said. "It's more for tourists. But what we do like to do is party for five days. For us, it means that we're gonna really be having nice parties for a long time. That's what Carnaval and this time of year is about for us."

Accordingly, Amaral has tapped name Sao Paolo spinner Mau Mau to give L.A. dance music fans a taste of hedonism Brazil-style March 6 at Cinespace in Hollywood (Amaral has brought big-name Brazilian talent to her Made in Brazil bashes before, most notably Gui Boratto, who spun in January 2008 at the Avalon).

This weekend at the Palladium, however, the only low thumping noises that might sound remotely like modern club music will come from Flavio Ribeiro's 20-plus-person-strong percussion band, which melds samba sounds, enredo rhythms and batucada beats in classic Brazilian style.

"We've got a lot of great music this year," said Leao. "We actually want to open the night with a parade featuring a conga line which will lead out on the dance floor. We'll have the drummers and samba dancers up in front and then they'll get up onstage. We found that people in L.A. really like to have spontaneous fun; they only need a little push."



The ninth annual Brazilian Carnaval

Where: The Palladium, 6215 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood

When: 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday

Price: $38 to $75

Contact: (818) 566-1111,

Los Angeles Times Articles