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Samba Culture

The unquestioned heart and soul of Rio is Samba, its birthplace. There is no more powerful rhythm in the world. Samba seizes your body and says shake, quiver and express yourself. As your blood pulse intensifies, you sense a hypnotizing connection with others sharing this astral plane of samba. Drumming or dancing, this "cult samba" aspect is one of the more compelling parts of samba's 20th century evolution.

Samba's most important root is derived from lundu, a song form and circle dance brought to Brazil by Bantu slaves. The bantu word "semba" meant to pray or invoke the dieties or ancestors and their tradition honored sacred dancers called an ia˘ which means daughter of a saint. This sexy, playful dance includes naval touching to invite the next dancer forward. Today a typical encore of a samba dance performance will have the dancers bringing the audience onto the stage to dance in a grand finale..

"Look at me. Worship the goddess in me" says the dancing Carioca girl without moving her lips. This is not the same as "take me" and forgetting this point can earn you a sharp rejection or worse. It is often remarked, that the Brazilian love affair with the human form is centered on the bunda or butt. The samba dance moves the feet to the greater glory of the bunda.

The power of African drum poly-rhythms is a complex language which defies language but is very much felt nonetheless. Early in the 20th century, many Northeastern Afro-Brazilians immigrated to Rio. Often they gathered at the homes of Bahian matriarchs in the Plaza Eleven district and it was here the early samba rhythms emerged. The most prominent of these women who were called Aunts was Tia Ciata who was also know as a daughter of the CandomblÚ deity, Oxum. It was here that the first samba song was recorded in 1917.

The word's to first samba song "Pelo Telefone" (On the phone) still could serve as a simple explanation of what is samba culture:

The commandant of fun
Told me on the phone
To dance with joy

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