Mamba Negra in São Paulo

  • Take a look inside the formidable queer party at the heart of the city's clandestine rave scene.
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  • Since launching in 2013, Mamba Negra has developed a fierce reputation in São Paulo's thriving electronic music scene. What started as a spontaneous rooftop birthday party has transformed into a multi-faceted event in which few boundaries seem to exist and in which liberty and openness are the mantra. As such, it's attracted a cult following among the city's music, art and queer scenes. The most recent edition went down on Saturday in a huge warehouse complex on the eastern edge of the city centre. As I arrived early in a near-abandoned street, it was easy to overlook the entrance. Drizzle and a light fog had set in, providing an appropriately grim backdrop. Set across two floors, the party felt more like a festival, with empty brick halls, numerous bars, clothing shops, live art installations and a pool—a reference to the inaugural edition. The musical programme was diverse—Volvox, Mamba Negra's cofounder Cashu and the eccentric Anklepants were joined by local DJs, live acts and performance artists. The evening began with a choreographed dance piece, which the crowd watched in total silence amid the odd drop of rain. Nude bodies mingled in various poses. Next, the local DJ Due got things rolling with a rousing set of techno and trance. The warehouse filled up quickly. A mix of extravagant get-ups, fetish gear and custom-made costumes transformed the space into a colourful mass. On the other floor, Entropia went housier, though with Cashu about to start I was soon drawn back. Shifting between techno, EBM, electro and breaks, her set was funky, pounding and uplifting. She turned the dance floor turned into a writhing swirl of sweaty, semi-naked bodies. The sky turned bright and the temperature warm, luring people outside. Unfazed by the mild rain, the crowd turned the place into a full-scale afterhours. Indoors, Volvox had hit the decks, keeping people moving by pushing the tempo higher. As she played, fog settled over the venue, creating a mystical atmosphere. Suddenly, you felt a world away from the realities of São Paulo. Mamba Negra showed that, despite Brazil's far-right political climate, there are still progressive spaces where notions of liberty, freedom and openness prevail.