Dyke Nightlife Diaries: Baile das Marinheiras, Brazil’s Most Epic Lesbian Party

Easily some of the most dedicated, impressive twerking I’ve ever seen.

Clare Hand is a self-described flaming London lesbian. She’s spent the last year writing about queer women’s nightlife in her city. She documents the atmosphere, music, fashions, vibe (are you going to get laid or make new mates?), and those behind the nights.

Clare decided that it wouldn’t be right to only document dyke nightlife in one city, so she packed her bags and hit the road. She’s written about the thriving scenes in New YorkSan Francisco, Bogota, São Paulo, Berlin, and Dublin so far. This list will keep expanding. Keep an eye on her Dyke Nightlife Diaries here.

Brazilians can dance. I know that’s a generalisation, but I have friends from all over Brazil, of all ages, with careers ranging from lawyers to journalists. Yes, these are some of the stiffest, least rhythm-requiring jobs there are, but put on a samba beat and watch them fly. They pummel the floor with the passion and pizzazz of someone who’s heading up a float at Carnival.

 

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I’d already been to a few bars and clubs in São Paulo that week, so I’d seen some of the magic in action. Still, nothing could quite prepare me for rocking up to Sonora Garden, a 3,000 capacity live music venue, the night before Pride.

Sonora had been taken over by pioneering lesbian party organisers Baile das Marinheiras (aka Pri Transferetti, her girlfriend Maithe, and best friend, Eleonora). They’ve been hosting parties for eight years, and tonight, they were hosting one of the biggest queer women’s parties the city (dare I say country) had ever seen—and they’d pretty much sold out.

Adrenaline raced through my body (yes, I’m a teenage boy) as I presented my ticket, went through security, and squeezed past a metal turnstile. It was a major, festival-like operation. Beyoncé and Shakira’s “Beautiful Liar” thumped in the distance, the song’s hypnotic flute lured me in like a Pied Piper.

 

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As I strode towards the dance-floor, past trees lit by pink and green neon lights, through thousands of my queer peers, I was, well, lost for words. The powerful base surged through the crowd, penetrating every cell of every person, inducing all to unleash their most euphoric moves. People were in groups, laughing, cheering, and twerking—easily some of the most dedicated, impressive twerking I’ve ever seen. Whole groups of queer women (and their friends) danced uninhibited, coordinating their booty-vibrating in circles large and small.

I stood in the middle of it all and tried to keep up. I probably looked like a drunk dad two-stepping at a wedding in comparison. After a while, I threw in the towel and just absorbed the enormity and energy of the event. We have arrived, I thought, as I contemplated how much of an achievement this space is. Beyoncé’s “Run the World” came on—I think she might be right.

Before launching Baile das Marinheiras, Pri worked as a business consultant for Deloitte and kept her sexuality firmly to herself. After a break-up, she started going to parties, meeting queer people and, for the first time, “felt I was finally alive.” And that is exactly what I witnessed at her party: people coming alive.

The political situation in Brazil is pretty much as polarised and toxic as it is in the U.S. right now. Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s very own Donald Trump, took the presidency last October. He is a self-described “proud homophobe,” whose impressive arsenal of nasty sound-bites include, “I’d rather my son died in an accident than show up with some bloke with a moustache,” (2011); ‘I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it,’ (said to congresswoman Maria do Rosario in 2014); and “I’ve got five kids, but on the fifth I had a moment of weakness, and it came out a woman.” (2017). He’s a delight.

All of my Brazilian mates, in all their queer glory, have had to distance themselves from their parents (all of whom are pro-Bolsonaro). This climate weighs on all of them, but progress, despite the tumour dwelling at the top, is happening every day. A few days before Pride, for instance, Brazil’s Supreme Court voted to criminalise transphobia and homophobia.

Just five years ago, Baile das Marinheiras was a private invite-only event at a rented house.

“It was a success at the time because people were still afraid of going to openly gay nightclubs and being exposed,” Pri said, “so we created a place where they could be themselves without this kind of worry.”

Their event grew from strength to strength, and now here we are at 3,000 people partying, loving, and twerking, out, loud and proud.

There was no dress code; people were wearing whatever they felt good in, from flip-flops to heels, body-con dresses to sports bras. The only uniform seemed to be impressive tattoos (body-art in São Paulo is strong) and beaming smiles.

The music was very Dua Lipa heavy (I counted six tracks that night), but Carly Rae Jepsen and Nicki Minaj kept creeping up too. For most of the night, we listened to Brazilian gold: Funk Carioca, Samba, Forró, Trap. Occasionally, a Brazilian slow jam would enter the mix, causing people to unite in chorus, serenading and hugging one-another, and waving their arms in the air. There was something very familial and inclusive about these ballads; it felt like I’d showed up to a big fat Brazilian wedding.

 

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Soon after, a crew of celesbians and influencers took to the stage. The crowd was ecstatic, literally beside themselves as they ran up for selfies with the likes of Yasmin Akutsu @yaakutsu, Ana Gabriela @anagabriela, Luana Aguiar @luanacsaguiar, and Thais Ribeiro @ribeirohthais. The group had visible chemistry with each other and their audience, and they spent the next hour playfully flirting with their fans, and chugging shots into the gaping mouths of those in the front row (LMFAO’s “Shots” played in the background).

From 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., the size and energy of the crowd did not lull, the dance-moves did not falter, and the twerkers kept lighting up everyone’s night. When queer women host parties like this at challenging times like these, they are affirming identities, building communities, and allowing people to reach new heights on the dance-floor, while the men in charge see how low they can go.

 

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Keep an eye on Baile das Marinheiras @bailedasmarinheiras for their upcoming parties.


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