This years coverage of Rio Olympics has kept me hooked! Not only has there been the Olympic Superhero stadium action but this year we have had the visual stimulation of crashing waves, sexy sunsets and beautiful people jogging, surfing and cavorting around the breathtaking city of Rio de Janeiro!
This off stadium Rio action has been addictive viewing for one such as me - a sufferer of obsessive compulsive "I wanna live in Rio" disorder - something I picked up ten years ago following the time I left home and bounded off to the tropical city in search of teenage adventure. 10 years on, following 5 more visits and a 2 year stint living there (which made the disorder even more serious), I have found the only way to cope with not living in Rio is by trying to live a Carioca (Rio local) here in London. Even setting up the Pomba Girls came from my determination to transpose aspects of their festive culture to London - the name deriving itself from party loving female spirit "Pomba-Gira" which hails from Brazilian Umbanda ritual practices.
Luckily for me, living in London- a city ever embracing of cultural diversity, I can still encounter some of my most loved aspects of Rio lifestyle right on my doorstep, which happens to be the buzzing high-street of Peckham!
Here's my top 7!
In Peckham, like Rio, life happens on street. When the weather is good the locals love nothing more than hitting the concrete pavements for some street drinking culture! Venues like Peckham Springs / The Nines have even taken on board the trend for improvised battered old seating/ DIY benches that began in Rio's poorest favela communities. We just need a few glamours transvestites to give us a real downtown Lapa vibe (this can be arranged surely?)
Like Rio - Peckham's high-street has a surprising abundance of exotic fruit, vegetables and fresh coconuts that allow me and the Pomba Girls to power ourselves up on all the latest #Superfoods! And if you need some blending advice head down to Ali Baba Juice - Peckham’s very own street Juice Bar (so Rio) where a handsome man in a hat (so Rio) called Mihu (kinda Rio- ish??) can fix you up a Super-Dupa-Superfood-Juice!
3. Outdoor Fitness:
It's not just during Olympic season that the people of Rio get sporty, this is a HOT beach side city where people love to wander around with minimal clothing and as a result Cariocas are obsessed with fitness. And while here in Peckham we do not tend to hang out in our bikinis we can still enjoy an intense body pumping session down our local Yard: Pure Rio Action!
Walk out of Peckham Rye Station station and take a direct right. Close your eyes & listen to the beat. Calm down - no need to rush just imagine you’re in Rio let your body move to the Afro-Beat. Got it? Ok now walk to the beat and own the street.
5. Beleza (Beauty):
If your dare to keep following those Afro-Beats with your eyes closed you will probably wind up in one of our many local Afro- beauty salons. These tribes of Peckham Divas would be well at home in Rio where beauty pampering is an absolute essential. And the Pomba Girls have made the most of the beauty shops- creating Rio Carnival inspired outfits from Afro-Hair extensions and the epic BLING encountered whilst waiting for acrylic nails to dry- Que Beleza!
6. Rooftop Occupation:
This fierce trend sweeping the London skyline is believed (so Peckham legend has it) to have started by a chap called Frank who proved that rooftop car-parks really are cool hangout spots provided you supply enough Aperol Spirtz! However the people of Rio were doing rooftop occupation long before us in a bit to utilize every last plot of urban space found in cities controlled by cruel property tycoons (sound familiar?) But when it comes to rooftop action for the Pomba Girls nothing can beat the feeling of dancing on top of one! Flashback last summer when we hit the roof of Copland Park estate with our Pop-Icon (come dance instructor) FEMME for a #RooftopRioDance class inspired by Rio based dance troupe: AfroFunk Rio.
7. Carnival LOVE
True that when it comes to Carnival rave ups in London Notting Hill is a big competitor (although any street party that shuts its sound systems at 7pm is hard to classify as a 3 day Carnival by Rio standards). Luckily in Peckham, if you LOVE CARNIVAL the way they do in Rio you can get your fix down every two months by hitting the Love Carnival club-night at our local Bussey Building. Hosted by London's hottest Latin American music promoters: Movimientos this night promises to unleash "hypest Tropical Bass, Global Beats, Carnival Vibes, and Dancehall Riddims" till sunrise! To make it happen they got DJ Cal Jader + DJ Selecta Mad Max firing up the decks with an ever evolving party crew of special guest DJ's live musicians, dancers and mind blowing tropical visuals/ party decorations. So if you crave the vibe of a Rio Carnival party - aka the chance coat yourself in glitter and dance until you sweat it off (onto the glitter covered sweaty bodies grinding next to you) then get yourself down there!
Find me and the Pomba Girls at the next Love Carnival: Friday 8th October @ Bussey Building Peckham. Tickets HERE
Text by Emma Symes: @LoRIOca - (London Girl with Rio Spirit!)
Love Carnival Photos by Ila Brugal: @ilabrugal