Friday, November 25, 2016

Meeting an Old friend (finally) Djing and B-Boys!

Life is about struggles, challenges that test you and make you grow. Today was a day of thanks and being grateful for stories of friendship and memories. These shape what we will be. Life is about connections, collaboration. As humans our interactions are vital on mutual collaboration. With technology, people tend now be less connected and "text" each other now instead of giving face time. Are we losing touch? We need to get back to more human interaction face to face and put down our technology. We need to connect again.

Talking about connection, a few months ago, a friend from my past contacted me. He told me that he was coming to Rio. Phi Pham was a guy I met online on a page called the "Hollerboard". This page was for mostly Dj's and producers. I was a member of the page and met Phi through conversing on the message boards. I cant exactly remember the details but we both started talking about starting a Dj School in Rocinha. I know I always wanted a Dj Project of some sort.  Since 2001 I have always wanted a Dj School. With the culture of Dj'ing and its popularity, it only made sense to start something. Also I often had people in Rocinha asking me to teach them but at the time I either didn't have the time or equipment.

Since 2001, I always had this idea of having a school to teach dj'ing but never really knew how I could do it. I didn't have the space and I didn't have the money. When I returned to Rocinha then ideas started taking shape. I started doing more research online and when I was in San Francisco I was more convinced that this was something I should do. One day while walking down Market Street near the intersection of 4th street, I passed a window in front of a huge building and noticed this girl behind some decks with a guy next to her. I stopped and observed then waited some time and eventually went inside to talk to the guy. He told me that he teaches Dj'ing. I took his card and never forgot that imagery in my head. It was like a confirmation. Now, how was I going to do this?

In 2007 I started working in tourism. I know it could be lucrative if I did things right and offered something different. I think in 2009 was when I was exchanging ideas about the Dj school with Phi. Through the "Hollerboard" we had gathered some others who were interested in joining forces to help us start something. One, was Harry Daley from Canada who planned on visiting Rio in 2010. We were able to save money to buy gear and through 2010 until about 2012 with the awesome help of Rick EchevarriaRyan Goode and Rita Michel, we were able to have equipment brought to us. And in August of 2011, we formally opened our Dj school "Spin Rocinha" and it still exists today.

Phi and I kind of lost contact as he was in New York and I was here in Rocinha. Both having our busy schedules but I did notice that he opened up his own school a few years after me. He started "Building Beats" a similar concept of teaching youth in at risk areas or places where one does not easily have access to a Dj school. I am happy to see that he decided to start his project.

Phi contacted me about a month ago to say that he would be visiting Rio. So we organized a meeting. He and his friend Alexandra wanted to see Rocinha and our Dj school. We met yesterday at the entrance of the Metro Station Sao Conrado/Rocinha which is at the bottom of the favela. I wanted to give them an idea of what we are doing here.

We took a van up to the highest point in Rocinha to an area called Laboriaux where you can see the Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ Statue and the Beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. I explained a little about the social class separation and unequal distribution of wealth. As we started to walk down the hill, I decided that since Phi likes to Dj Hip Hop music that I would introduce him to a project called Rede Coletiva da Rocinha. Managed by Henrique Saggaz, it's a project for youth and young adults that offers classes of Break Dancing, BallRoom Dancing, Capoeira, Dj'ing with computers, Muay Thai Kick Boxing, Photography and Film Making. I suggest they also include English Classes. Rede Coletiva is also open to other projects that benefit the favela. Phi and Alexandra met some of the students and participants of the B-Boy group and they put on a little demonstration. Phi took photos and is interested in helping to promote a cross culture with New York and Rocinha. Phi happens to live in Brooklyn, the birthplace of Hip Hop and Break Dancing. So we hope to collaborate with some projects soon. Below are some photos of the B-Boys doing their thing!

After the B Boys we continued the visit where I explained how the favela functions.  After sampling some Acai at a little shop we made a visit to the library. Alexandra being a library it was only natural to show her our lbrary. Whiile there Phi and Alexandra had the opportunity to meet with visiting Astronaut Chris Cassidy who was giving a presentation at the library to youth.
They were able to get a photo with him.

 After we stopped off at our Dj School so they could see how far we had come since our first contact!  Here is a photo of them with one of the Olympic torches used in the relay. After grabbing some drinks and some street food and 6 hours later they were tired and had to leave. We will collaborate on some projects and I will be sure to write on the blog what we will be doing in Rocinha with our Brooklyn contacts!