One of the best things about living in New York is the Brazilian community; between the cultural events, concerts, movies, and food, it's easy to matar saudades, but it's also wonderful to be able to meet so many Brazilians, either ones who live here or ones passing through. It's impossible to be too homesick for Brazil in New York, because you'll find Brazilians and Brazilian culture all over the city.
So when a guy from Berimbau told Eli and I about a Brazilian party on Sundays at the Coffee Shop's Union Square Lounge, we were really excited to check it out. It supposedly had great Brazilian music and was a fun event to meet other Brazilians in New York.
Last week, we decided to go. We'd been told it the event started at 5, though according to the website, it only started at 6:30. So when we went over at 6, the place wasn't open yet. Eli spoke to a not particularly friendly Brazilian from management at the Coffee Shop, who told us it hadn't started yet but there would be a drink minimum, for our information. I found this odd because nowhere online does it say there's a cover or minimum for the venue. In any event, there was nothing going on, so we left. We came back an hour later, when the lounge was supposed to have opened. Another Brazilian at the door told us it hadn't started yet, though the club appeared to be open. Annoyed, we left and went to another bar to meet friends. Later that night, two of our friends we were with stopped by the lounge on their way home. Both are Brazilian and white, and at the time were wearing flip flops. They were let in with no mention of a drink minimum, had one or two beers, and went home without incident.
Fast forward to this week, when Eli (a brown-skinned Brazilian), both aforementioned Brazilian friends, and one of Eli's Asian co-workers went to the lounge after a barbecue (I was at home getting ready and waiting to hear when Eli got there). The party was in full swing when they arrived, but they were told by the Brazilian at the door that they couldn't wear flip flops to go in. I'd warned them that could happen, so they told the man at the door that they would change their shoes and come back. One of the Brazilian friends went home, and then Eli, his Asian co-worker and his Brazilian friend changed into sneakers and returned to the lounge.
The same guy was there, the same one who we spoke to the week before, and the same one who had told them he could have let them in if had been wearing different shoes. This time, he told the three that he could let them in, but they'd have to spend a minimum of $140 in drinks. It was a particularly odd ultimatum, especially since he was letting other people in without mentioning this, including a pair of Spaniards who he let in in front of Eli and his two friends. It also would appear to be a flat out lie based on our friends' experience the week before, and it appeared to be a lie intended to keep Eli and his friends out. After that, they left, and Eli called to tell me not to bother to come.
Racism and classism are certainly not relegated to Brazil, where Eli and I had a few minor incidents together. New York has its own problems with racism; Manhattan clubs in particular have been accused of having racist door policies, and SoHo club Greenhouse has been sued three times by Latino and black women for racism. What was so insulting and disappointing about these incidents was seeing these misguided policies perpetrated by Brazilians against their own.
I have no intention of trying to go back to the lounge, let alone the Coffee Shop. Instead, I recommend these fun Brazil parties, whether you're a Brazilian looking for a taste of home or a gringo looking for a bit of Brazil in New York:SOBs
Cafe Wha - Mondays
Brazil NYC - Check for events
Barzinho - Thursdays
Let me know if you have any other suggestions to add!
UPDATE: Reader suggestions
Zinc Bar - Sundays
Nublu - Wednesdays