Friday, July 13, 2012

Rust Belt Chic Brazil In NYC

Rust Belt Chic is ubiquitous. In a generic sense, the concept captures a unique sense of place. The dorky old ways you couldn't wait to leave behind now fill you with longing and nostalgia. Or, more simply, you appreciate the charms of authenticity:

Great pictures! Butte looks like a gritty mountain town. You are exactly right about the Pennsylvania look; quite a few of those pictures reminded me of an Appalachian oil town or coal town. Butte looks strangely similar to Oil City, PA, and Wheeling, WV.

The title of the thread says it all, "BUTTE, Montana | Rocky Mountain Rust Belt." You don't have to be in the Rust Belt to find Rust Belt Chic. But there is more to it than topography and building stock.

Rust Belt Chic is also about romanticizing working class culture. We seek out blue collar food and music, putting a contemporary spin on the old ways. Hand cut potatoes are deep fried in duck fat and piled on top of organic locavore greens. A Pittsburgh salad becomes haute cuisine.

That's a long-winded introduction to the forró craze seizing New York City:

But the boomlet in New York also seems propelled by the desire of young music consumers for something that sounds new and exotic but which you can still dance to in the old-fashioned way — close and tight. That parallels the genre’s evolution in Brazil, where about a decade ago sophisticated college-age urbanites adopted and adapted the old, rough-hewn sound, polishing it into a style now known as “university forró.” ...

... In a telephone interview from Recife, during a break in rehearsals for Friday’s show, Cláudio Rabeca said he was worried about only one thing in his band’s American debut. Nobody in Quarteto Olinda speaks English, he said, so he was going to have to take extraordinary measures to assure that his message gets across to New Yorkers.

“Forró is music that was originally played in homes, at parties, in small places where people who were farm laborers, bricklayers or maids were encouraged to dance,” he said. “You can’t dismember the music from the dancing, they’re totally linked, and we want to communicate that to American audiences. So we’re going to bring along big placards with messages to that effect written out in English, and show them from the stage. It can’t be just the thing of the music. It has to have the dance too.”

Emphasis added. Is that Rust Belt Chic? I'm asking an open question. I think it is. A blue collar cultural artifact is finding a second wind in an ironic environment.

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