In Brazil it is known as Danças de Salão (Ballroom Dancing). It is a healthy and invigorating hobby and a great way to make new friends.
Most foreigners would think that Samba is the most popular dance in Brazil. They would be wrong. First of all, Samba is most commonly danced alone, on the spot, and is officially known as “Samba no pé” (quite literally, Samba on the foot). It’s the sort of upbeat dancing commonly associated with Brazil’s famous Carnival. The type of samba you dance with a partner is called “Gafieira”, and it is usually taught at dance academies.
Dancing Gafieira is no easy task, and involves some nifty footwork and coordination, similar to the Tango. Done properly, every move, or step to be precise, requires a few square metres of real estate, so crowded dance floors can be a problem. Therefore, it is essential to understand samba etiquette, which decrees that couples must move around the dance floor in a counter-clockwise direction to avoid any possible collisions. The idea is that each couple, as they respectfully rotate, creates ample space for the next swirling pair of dancers, safely avoiding any dance floor pileups.
Another thing of note is that many Brazilians, unfortunately, think poorly of Gafieira, claiming that it’s not real samba, but in fact a strand of ballroom dancing.
There are, however, simpler ways of dancing samba with a partner in Brazil, which are not strictly samba, just two people enjoying the rhythm of the music. Each region also has its own styles and codes that are usually only practiced locally. The Forró is one of them and in our next edition we will explain everything you need to know to get started! In the meantime, check out the My London section for places to learn more about Brazilian dance in London.