Call to Forró: come join Forró Family’s Dance Raiser for the British Heart Foundation!

Abelha will be making an appearance in the raffle and at the bar to support Forró Family’s Dance Raiser on 21st Feb, so to raise a toast to both the cause, the British Heart Foundation and to Forró Family, this post explores the history and growing popularity of the dance and music know as Forró!

What is forró?

Portrait of Traditional Forró party

Portrait of Traditional Forró party

Forró is a genre of Brazilian music born out of a mix of musical influences. It uses just 3 instruments, the accordion, the zabumba drum and the triangle. Traditionally, lyrics describe aspects of life in the rural Northeast; for example drought or migration to find work and homesickness.

Forró also includes various dance styles and rhythms. It is danced in pairs, much like a waltz with couples dancing very close together, and styles vary from region to region. The baião is the original rhythm of forró, with the xote as the slower version, and arrasta-pé the fastest of the three. There is also Pé de Serra style, which you can watch in this video.

The founder of modern forró – Luiz Gonzaga

A young Luiz Gonzaga!

A young Luiz Gonzaga!

Forró is thought to have originated at beginning of 20thcentury, but it was a peasant turned poet/musician, Luiz Gonzaga who helped to propel the genre in the 1940s making it popular throughout Brazil and beyond. His greatest hit, Asa branca, has been covered several times.

How forró got its name

Much like its exact musical influences, the origin of the word ‘forró’ remains a mystery, though tales of its source usually fall into 2 main theories.

The first (and most popular) theory of the genre’s name describes the word as an Anglicism that entered Portuguese at the turn of the 20th century. At the time, English railroad companies were laying tracks in the Northeast to connect the isolated sertão with the rest of the county.

The companies would throw parties for the workers and surrounding communities, and would signal free entry with a sign that said ‘For All’. ‘Forró’ is believed to be a transcription of the Brazilian way of pronouncing the English words. Another version of this story replaces the English railroad companies with American soldiers stationed in Brazil during the Second World War.

The second theory states that the word is an abbreviation of ‘forrobodó’, a word used to describe popular festivities with dancing and music. However the word forró came into existence, the dance and the music have something for everyone.

Truly an experience ‘for all’

Traditional Forró Party in Northeast Brazil

Traditional Forró Party in Northeast Brazil

Although forró’s popularity tapered off towards the 80s and 90s, the genre is experiencing a huge revival – now popular throughout Brazil and beyond. Major global cities like London, Paris, Toronto and New York all have venues and groups offering forró nights and dance lessons.

If you’re looking to experience forró in the best way you can, join us on the 21st Feb! It will be a blast! All the info below:

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