I went to a party a few day ago! I'm telling you this because was amazed by how everyone was into Forró! That was the dance music of choice for this very international group that included Americans, Argentineans, Japanese, Italians and of course, brazilians! They were dancing and singing and making me feel I was in Recife. Recife was, in a summer long gone, where I learned to dance forró!
Forró is rhythm and dance style that originated in the Northeast of Brazil. By now, you may have noticed that many of the contagious music from Brazil sprang from this culturally rich area. Some researchers claim that Forró is derived from the word “for all”. English companies in the early 1900 would organize parties for their workers and would advertise it as “for all”, including the general populace. Another theory is that Forro is a derivative of the Portuguese word forrobodó, which refers to “great party” and “joyful gatherings”. Forro is a style of music and dance created by the most humble and poor part of population in the “sertão nordertino”, the semi-arid region in Northeastern Brazil. This dusty interior area receives very little rainfall and sometimes endures sad, long-lasting droughts making life for the “sertanejos” extremely difficult.
Musician Luiz Gonzaga was the most significant promoter of fórro and the northeast music to the rest of Brazil. Gonzaga was born in 1912 in the Northeastern town of Exu, Pernambuco. As a young boy he would play in festivals and small towns balls with his father, the musician Januario Gonzaga. He joined the army at the age of 18 and played in military bands for almost a decade. After leaving the army in 1939, he decided to stay in Rio de Janeiro. Though his brilliant career Luiz Gonzaga sung about the struggles, longings and nostalgia of the Northeastern Sertanejos that due to their homeland drought and lack of jobs were obligated to migrate to larger cities in the south. He praised the interior life becoming one of the symbols for the reality of life in the sertão, giving voice to this simple brazilian population. "When the green of your eyes spread over the dead plantation I promise you that, Please don’t cry because, Then I'll be back, dear Then I'll be back, dear Then I'll be back."
The traditional Forró is also known as Pé-de Serra. It has as main musical source the instrumental trio of accordion, zabumba and triangulo. This style is well alive specially in the interior and cities like Recife in the state of Pernambuco. Forró music has enjoyed a revival. Young people in Brazil, and even International audiences, have been captivated by it’s contagious rhythms. Forro Universitario is the style associated with bands as Rastapé and Falamansa. It receives this name because of its link to the college kids and bands. Their music is a bit softer then the traditional Forro but still centers around Forro’s instruments and rhythms. Definitely, Forró is danceable music. Forró is danced in pairs. To dance it well you have to keep pelvis close together, interlock you tights moving in unison and feeling the beat of the zabumba. Zabumba is the great drum that marks the complex rhythms of Forro! Danced in clubs, street festivals and relaxed balls any time of the year in Brazil, this dance receives great attention during Festa Juninas, brazilian festival that happens in June around Dia de Sao João (Saint John's Day)! When the next invite for a Brazilian Party arrive, if you decide to go, there is good chance that you will be dancing Forró instead of Samba! Forró is for all and is, everywhere!