Dj GARrinchA, founding father, producer and resident spinner at TROPICAL DIASPORA, describes his party’s musical ethos as “The platform for live music and performance dedicated to the fusion of different styles, a culture way that is especially cultivated in Brazil since the days of Tropicalia. Since the beginning of my DJ career the focus of my sets is the creation a melting pot of all rhythms related to the Afro-Diaspora and all aspects connected to the tropical matter, the result is a bump ‘n’ grind groove that the people can’t get enough of. Fresh from gigs in South-America, we is kick off a new series of monthly parties in Berlin, featuring many Bands and DJ´s from Berlin, Europe and worldwide.
The Origin of Dj Garrincha and the Tropical Diaspora
In the 1990s I swapped the tropical concrete jungle São Paulo with another concrete jungle in Northern Europe, Berlin. An immigrant, a foreigner, a refuge, a “South American guy” in another diaspora, fleeing from the economic situation in Brazil, I decided to share my passion for the musical heritage as Dj GArRinchA. Never mind the former and current politics in Brazil, let’s go back to where it all started, for me anyways. In the early 1990s, the political map of the world saw profound changes with Germany and the once divided city Berlin at the epicenter. Before the Berlin Wall did not only divide this city, it was also the most obvious manifestation of the political crack which had been running through the world after WWII. Shortly after the wall fell the entire Eastern bloc started to totter and finally collapsed.
After the reunification, many West-Germans along with people from all over the world came to Berlin. Others from East Berlin could not wait to leave. Abandoned by their previous owners, places in the Eastern districts were squatted. Unlicensed and thus illegal bars would pop up on every corner and disappear or move to a different place within a week. A thriving art scene with newly opened galleries emerged in rundown houses. Coming to Berlin in the 1990s was like entering a laboratory with transformation taking place at any corner and affecting any aspect of life. This transition generated a vacuum that made people feel almost like creators shaping part of tomorrow’s world by trying out new things while the old was retreating and the new was still to come. In short, Berlin became the center of the young subculture in Europe.
In this spirit a new movement was born, which I call the “Latin American Way” of the Berlin subculture. Among the first places where this yet-to-be-born scene gathered was the Freitags Bar (German for Friday’s Bar), one of the various unlicensed bars at the center of the former Eastern part of the city. To me, this place embodied perfectly the spirit of that time. Only people who knew about it would come to this gloomy cavernous place in the basement of a pre-WWII building. Each time there was the risk that the party would be called off by the police which made every single event not only slightly adventurous but all the more precious. Thanks to the Latin American affection of the host, music and drinks from South America set the tone. The DJs staging there had no names yet and put music on that nobody knew, the Brazilian cocktail Caipirinha still had the charm of novelty, its rum base Cachaça was a rarity and quite pricey.
Initially as guest in that gloomy cavern then as “employee” sitting upstairs by candlelight, i was the doorman. After a while i began to provide CD compilations with Brazilian music to the guys that did the music in the basement i.e. DJ´ and suddenly i could listen that music been playing again and again the parties downstairs. The logic consequence was to play my compilations by my self, also this was the begin. After a while i was a resident and began to mix Brazilian music, first of all with the all known Spanish Latin-American songs and later with Balkan music, a style that came in the taste of the people in the early 90ies. Just like that we promote almost every week the party in the Freitag´s Bar and one day a friend of my came to me and ask “…who is this singer you play every week in your set…? with this amazing voice! ” my answer was who-else if not Elza Soares!
Another Friday in the bar and this friend came again to me to say that he knows who this singer is, she was Garrincha´s wife! After that he sad… ”you are the Dj Garrincha” and because was no night where I’ve played Elza Soares i accept that suggestion. So that night in that basement was the birth of Dj Garrincha. Not only i got a dj name, after my “baptism” everybody began to have dj names in the bar and some of them are active day now in Berlin like Dr.Sócrates and Andy Loop in Barcelona (by the way the asking guy in the history above).
But the most impressive personal experience for me back then was in 1996 after the concert of Chico Science & Nação Zumbi, when I met these musicians in the Freitags Bar. Yes, Chico Science was there in this very basement bar in the Mulackstraße, a place which, unfortunately, due to gentrification does no longer carry the taste of the 1990s. To point out not only the importance and meaning of this place in the early 1990s but also its effect, I should add that the most popular Latin American events in Berlin nowadays are produced and organized by people who used to be regulars at the Freitag´s Bar and whom I keep meeting at those events as today at the: TROPICAL DIASPORA in Berlin.
One of the lasting encounter at this basement existing today was that one with the guy that did the “doorman job” after me, today´s resident DJ Dr.Sócrates, his definition of Tropical Diaspora could´t be better…
I know Dj Garrincha for many years. We both share the love for unconventional music without labels or prejudices. We have shared many djs sessions, some good moments, some bad ones. But we haven’t given up our dream of collecting musical experiences that do not fit quite rightly what the mainstream expects for djs firing the dance floor. As Dj Garrincha told me about setting up a musical “tropical diaspora” supporting local bands and good music I couldn’t say no. For me “diaspora” means the constant movement in search for life based musical experiences, the traveling around of rhythms which are the result of suffering and exploitation as much as of a joyful sense of life.
“Tropical Diaspora” performs in the past in YAAM Berlin, where we try to create a room for empathic sharing. Instead of market professionalism we like to emphasis a true naive amateurism, though not in a pejorative sense. We claim the right of being amateurs of the dance floor, that is, literally, lovers, “amadores” as we call it in Portuguese. Surrounded by an ocean of mainstreams, the “Tropical Diaspora” party is an island of, simply, music. This is a music that is born uncut from the lives of the people. It is organic not manufactured; it grows from life’s stories. We respect that. “Tropical Diaspora” means music without preservatives, but as it simply is: “Tropical Diaspora”, the place to be in Berlin.
Recently, scholars have distinguished between different kinds of diaspora, based on its causes such as imperialism, trade or labor migrations, or by the kind of social coherence within the diaspora community and its ties to the ancestral lands. Some diaspora communities maintain strong political ties with their homeland. Other qualities that may be typical of many diasporas are thoughts of return, relationships with other communities in the diaspora, and lack of full assimilation into the host country.With the Tropical Diaspora Roots Sound we try to make reflections on a diasporic phenomenon in the Music. This refection show us that the whole Music we select in our events and all other movements connected to the tropical term come originally from Africa. All music styles at the and come directly from there or was reinvented in an African diaspora in other continents like south America, Carib or north America.
Currently we experience the clash of all Diaspora in Europe where all people from all over the world can meet and share his own musical influences with other people. During the 1990s several other diasporas settled in the city, the oldest is the Turkish and one of the latest is the Latin America and the Caribbean one. The reason and one of my goals with Tropical Diaspora is exactly to go out of the ghetto, colonies x or y and try to gather all in an attempt to create something new, for example, one of our event called FORRÚMBIA joining two roots dance Latin American rhythms in one stage: Forró and Cumbia with 2 Berliner local bands formed mostly by foreigners i.e immigrants with some Germans. After the concerts, the goal is to have a DJ with the musical diaspora, bringing African music, Latin American and Hispanic styles together. The main focus of Tropical Diaspora event is the live music, always reaffirming the value of the musician and good quality music. In addition, comes the DJ with vinyl records as the ultimate tool for the expression of great music.