Last night was the summer’s (make that “summer’s”) last Fogo Nas Aguas (Fire on the Water) Brazilian dance party. Founded by Brazilian-born resident-DJ Fabio Soul, the weekly event started out as a favela-focused fete on the Hudson, featuring a live mix of house, world, funk, and samba music on a yacht (ok, ferry) cruising up and down the river and around Ellis Island a few times. This year’s series expanded to implement Rio de Janeiro’s Carioca culture, with live baile funk manned by Xao Productions’ DJ Comrade on turntables, drums, and samplers, alongside an overly enthusiastic MC.
Due to some sort of equipment issue, DJ Gravy, tonight’s reggae/dancehall headliner, never got to play. Too bad, but nonetheless: We were on a boat.
That boat set sail at 7:30 p.m., with a refreshingly diverse group of party-goers on board: The older ladies (fiftysomethings) dancing without a care, the besuited men who came straight from work, the couples as enthralled by the scenic boat ride as by the music. Crystal Waters and Robin S techno remixes rang over the speakers (for a while we thought we were on the Randall’s Island ferry to Electric Zoo), which hardly signify as Brazilian, but remain crowd-pleasers nonetheless. After a string of equally predictable house and techno favorites, DJ Comrade took over the decks, sampling the chorus lines of party favorites (Snap’s “Rhythm Is a Dancer,” Missy’s “Lose Control,” MIA’s “Boyz”) over equally popular baile funk beats, adding syncopated drums and MPC sampler effects. All told, he’s a pretty awesome performer.
Then the samba dancers emerged (we didn’t think they’d show, to be honest). Fully decked out in feathers and sequins (and not much else), the ladies commanded the middle of the floor during such samba hits as “Vou Festejar” and “Coisinha do Pai,” a circle of partygoers cheering them on. After a hypnotizing display of booty-shaking and fancy footwork, they zeroed in on shy onlookers, endearingly smiling them on as the wallflowers stumbled onto the dancefloor themselves (it was all very endearing). By this time, the private party on the floor below (shout-out to Ethics Matters) had snuck in and joined us.
Unfortunately, the cruise was cut short and the boat docked a half-hour early. No one cared, though, as two hours on board was enough to get everyone sufficiently fuzzy, either due to the caipirinha-based bar or the intensely wavy ride. We were bummed to miss DJ Gravy (for the second time in a month), but really, the beautiful ride alone made the night a success.