Brazil Mystery #5: Our Lady of Mini-Skirts

Salvador has a famous Carnaval bloc of cross-dressing men. Image Source

I’ve ranted before about the lack of silence in my neighborhood – it’s especially bad on Sundays, and even worse during Carnaval season. But today it turned into a Brazil Mystery!

Beginning at 9 AM, a pickup truck with enormous speakers started playing music by Parangole, a band that has given Brazil cultural masterpieces such as “Rebolation,” “Ai delicia,” and “Treme o bumbum.”

Turn your volume all the way up and watch this video – go ahead, I’ll wait – and then imagine listening to music such as this BLASTING NONSTOP FOR HOURS. (Bonus points if you can count how many random crotch-shots there are):

Note to readers outside Brazil – try searching YouTube for “Parangole Tchubirabiron” to find the video.

“I’m going to go out there and start throwing raw eggs,” I said.

“Bad idea,” said my husband. “That’ll just cause trouble.”

“Then I’ll call the police.”

“I don’t think that’ll get you anywhere,” said my husband, who has lived in this neighborhood for over 15 years. “If I’m not mistaken, the truck with the giant speakers belongs to an off-duty cop.

Fuming, I tried to concentrate on creating new English classes with “Tchubirabiron” invading my eardrums.

Around 11:30, I ventured out of the house to buy some milk before the market closed. On the way, I was determined to get a look at the idiots who felt it was their right to disturb everyone’s peace for hours at a time. To my surprise, I saw not only the truck with speakers, but also…


Not kidding. Most of the men were wearing sundresses or little frilly skirts, and some had gone all out with wigs and costume jewelry. There were even little boys in skirts and bikini tops. The poor guy wearing a denim miniskirt looked like he was having some trouble maneuvering as the skintight skirt restricted his agility. The “field,” chalked out on the street, was surrounded by spectators and players drinking beer as they waited for their team’s turn in the game.

Oooooooookay, I thought. Then again, it is Carnaval season, so seeing men in women’s clothing is not all that uncommon. There’s even a famous Carnaval bloc of cross-dressing men called “As Muquiranas.”

But then things got even weirder.

Punctually at noon, the music suddenly stopped. What’s this? Game over? I thought hopefully.

Then I heard everyone reciting the Lord’s prayer in unison:

Pai Nosso que estais no Céu,
santificado seja o vosso Nome…

After they finished, there were fireworks (side note: I’ve never understood the Brazilian love of setting off fireworks during the day. Guess they just like the sound?) and everyone cheered.

Aaaaaaaand then the music restarted, with spiritual and inspiring lyrics such as “rub your pussy on the ground.” (Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.) It is currently 3 PM and I’m thinking the bizarre party isn’t going to end until after sundown. UPDATE: A drumming group also appears to be in the neighborhood, thus compounding the noise. Happy happy joy joy.

I have no clue WHAT my neighborhood is celebrating, but I’ve christened it Festa da Nossa Senhora das Mini-Saias – Festival of Our Lady of the Mini-Skirts.

  • Oh… my… gawd. Ok, so looking on the bright side, this is a story for the grandkids. (right?)

  • When I tried to watch the video clip, I got the message, “The uploader has not made this video available in your country.” Disappointment reigns.

    FUNNY post – I wonder if the Brazilians in our church engage in these practices – probably not, because they’re not from Bahia.

    • Shayna

      For anyone outside of Brazil – try searching YouTube for “Parangole Tchubirabiron” if you REALLY want the joy of watching the video :-p

  • Luasol

    Okay, I won’t complain about hicktown!;) Yesterday morning, before the sunrise, I was awoken by fireworks! There is entertainment value in this:)

  • Oh gosh. I think I’d have to move. But I sure do wish you had taken your camera to get milk. That street soccer game would have played well on your blog.

  • I am Brazilian and I DON’T like carnaval anymore, it used to be a lot of fun when I was younger (decades ago!) but now I just don’t like or care about it anymore!

    However I want you to imagine yourself living in the heart of New Orleans French district during Mardi Grass, can you imagine yourself having peace to work? I think you’re just on the wrong spot for your work and style of living!

    But, I have to say I enjoy your blog a lot! 🙂

    • Shayna

      You know, a lot of people I talk to in Salvador don’t care for Carnaval – many take the opportunity to travel to the interior of the state for some vacation, peace, and quiet. I have a friend coming to Brazil in a few weeks, and I think I’ll ask her for some earplugs – the kind people use to sleep on airplanes!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting 🙂 Do you currently live in Brazil, or elsewhere?

      • Eladio

        I’m living in the States, close to Washington DC, I am an Information Technology consultant and one of my clients is a school that teaches English to people from all over. You may have heard about them, since they also have a program to teach teachers, it’s LADO International College.

        Anyway, keep it up, the Carnaval is about to officially start and as they say… Se você não pode vencê-los, junte-se a eles… 😛

      • You can get earplugs in bulk at Costco. I brought several pair, and most pharmacies here have them.

  • nina

    I lived in New Orleans in Uptown and would get cut off from my drive at 4pm starting Thursday to Sunday (actually all day Sunday and Saturday) for a month during carnival! in New Orleans. However, I really really did love the neighborhood and my apartment, so all in all it was worth it.

    Brazil probably has the largest amount of noise pollution ever. I work at home under tight deadlines, I bought head phones and got tons of classical music. I can’t work with music on that has lyrics. Although it’s still noise, it’s only one thing instead of the twenty different noises going on at once about 20/7 (not quite 24/7).

    But yeah, salvador is probably the place to be to see beyond weird during the carnival season. And your fun has just began. Great blogging stories.

    • Shayna

      I’m the same with music and lyrics – especially when I’m translating or proofreading. Unfortunately my headphones aren’t noise-canceling ones… maybe I’ll put a pair on my Christmas list 🙂

  • HAHAHA those are some classy song lyrics!!!!!!!

    Sounds like fun for the party goers, but a little bit too noisy for someone who may be working or trying to sleep. One thing I can tell you is, that there is NOBODY even out on the street where I live, kind of the opposite effect. It makes me feel like I live in a ghost town.

  • There was one of these days recently in Olinda. They seem to be quite a regular affair in Pernambuco. No church nonsense mind. Now that is weird!

  • Tita

    Meu Deus !!!! É sério essa sua indignação????

    Como pode uma “gringa”(americana) estar em Salvador em plena época de carnaval e não saber que não existe silêncio durante esse período!!! Se quiser paz ou tranquilidade terá que ir para o interior das cidades(campos, fazendas).

    Novamente somos premiados com a grande estupidez americana, digo isso porque imagine um brasileiro em Nova Orleans durante o Mardi Gras, agora imagine se faz algum sentido esse mesmo brasileiro queixar-se a polícia local porque o barulho é muito grande e está lhe incomodando???

    Muito provavelmente a polícia vai pedir que o brasileiro apresente seus documentos(para verificar se ele está legal no país) e depois vai mostrar o caminho do aeroporto para o “tupiniquim” sair mais rápido de seu tão “organizado” país.

    >>> E quanto a sua observação:

    Aaaaaaaand then the music restarted, with spiritual and inspiring lyrics such as “rub your pussy on the ground.” (Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.)

    Duvido que você se sinta intimidado ou constrangido quando ouve algo do tipo:
    Short Dick Man – Gillette ou ainda quando ouve algum tipo de Rap bem sujo.

    Mas é claro que para os gringos as músicas brasileiras com conotação sexual sempre serão muito mais ofensiva que suas próprias músicas desse mesmo estilo.

  • natalie

    good afternoon tita,
    i am curious, have you ever been to the united states yourself? you seem to have very strong opinions about the united states and i am wondering if your sources have mislead you.

    btw; this is someone’s blog of personal experiences. if you don’t like what she writes, don’t read it again.

    take care,