New Year’s Eve in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

New Year's Eve in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

For centuries New Year’s Eve in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil was a simple matter. Salvador residents would dress in white and gather on beaches, setting candles into depressions dug into the sand, asking for the  blessings of Yemanjá during the year to come.

Fireworks came along in the ’90s, at the Farol (Lighthouse) da Barra and the big hotels along the seafront. Barra became New Year’s party central and tables were set up on the beach at Porto da Barra, with sound systems, and the chaos was on.

Then several years ago the prefeitura (city government) began organizing an official New Year’s Eve party over several nights down in Praça Cayru, behind the Mercado Modelo. But this was thousands and thousands of people crammed into an area not entirely suitable for such a crowd, and last year (was it two years ago?) the party/series of shows was moved to the Atlantic seafront in the Salvador neighborhood of Boca do Rio, where the old Aeroclube was located.

And that’s where it will be as 2018 becomes  2019.

There will be five nights of music, beginning on December 28th, 2018 and running through the night of January 1st, 2019. The countdown to midnight will be done by pop singer Ivete Sangalo, apparently still a draw here in Brazil, and most of the other artists are well-known biggies as well. It appears however that the only quality headliner will be Milton Nascimento, and in the this-isn’t-great-but-it-sure-is-fun category Harmonia do Samba will be there to get your caboose chuggin’.

Bell Marques formerly of Chiclete com Banana is scheduled, doubtful Bahian pop of huge popularity. But then Bell’s music director is Kiko Souza of Santo Amaro, Bahia, and his bass player is Gustavo Caribé, also of Santo Amaro, both masterly musicians. I’m reminded of rolling around years ago in Barra before Carnival had kicked in, and hearing the musicians on top of one of the trio elétricos (sound trucks as musical stages) warming up before starting into their official night of dubiousness by playing Miles Davis’ So What.

So what? If one is able to blur one’s ears or maybe after a few beers in one is able to ignore inspiration and concentrate on execution and the exquisite Brazilian movementation around one, there’s a good time to be had. And a happy, safe, productive and loving New Year to you too!