If one is in Salvador and feeling truly social there’s really only one place to be on the evening before the feast day of São João: Pelourinho, the Centro Histórico.
This is of course the night of the biggest of the June parties, and as certainly as Silent Night will be heard on Christmas Eve in Peoria, forró will be heard — and danced to — across the Nordeste of Brazil (of which Bahia is an integral part).
Here in Pelourinho there will be forró in the Terreiro de Jesus, in the Largo do Pelourinho, in Largo Pedro Archanjo, and in Largo Teresa Batista, a number of groups playing sequentially in each place. There will be thousands of people here. There will be the traditional liqueurs including jenipapo, tamarindo, milho (corn), amendoim (peanut; my favorite), maracujá (passion fruit; watch out who you drink it with!) and lots and lots of cerveja. There will be the traditional bombas (firecrackers) which originated supposedly as noisemakers to scare off evil spirits (do evil spirits frighten so easily?) in Europe during the festivities on the vesper of the feast of St. John the Baptist.
This is a great holiday and with respect to all wherever it’s celebrated it’s hard to imagine it being done better that they do it here in Brazil (where much if most is done badly…but not parties, music & dancing).