Tuesday nights are party nights in Salvador da Bahia. Several of us from our tour group took taxis to the Pelourinho to check out the scene. On Tuesday nights, the Pelourinho area is bustling with activity. There is live music in just about every club and bar. There are groups practicing their drumming in the alleys. There are long lines for a fortune teller. The souvenir shops are very busy. You can smell different food every time you turn a corner. There was a big stage set up in the square in front of São Francisco Church, where musical groups gave free concerts of samba and Bahian music. Crowds of people strolled the cobblestone streets, while others just hung out and people-watched. There is a significant police presence in the area, so we always felt safe. I only saw one incident that evening involving what appeared to be an argument between some teens, but the police broke it up quickly.
I found the live music we heard in Salvador da Bahia to be interesting. It seemed that no matter what genre was played, it was always accompanied by a drum section similar to what you would find in a marching band. These were mainly varieties of toms and snares. The rhythms definitely had an African influence.
One of the popular musical attractions in Salvador is the group Olodum. This group has performed and recorded with people like Paul Simon and Michael Jackson. They normally rehearse on Tuesday nights in their building in Pelourinho. I, being a part-time musician, was looking forward to hearing them rehearse. Unfortunately, they were not rehearsing on the particular Tuesday we were there. Nonetheless, Olodum sells their merchandise (shirts, hats, buttons, etc.) on the first floor of their rehearsal building. I bought one of their CDs. The music on the CD covers several genres, but always with the distinctive Bahian drum section.
We spent a few hours exploring the Bahian nightlife before heading back to the hotel. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes when walking the streets of the Pelourinho section. It didn't take long before the cobblestone streets started to become uncomfortable to walk on.
May 6, 2005
From journal Brazil Trip - Salvador da Bahia