As no doubt many JD readers are fully aware, forró is that slightly lesser known Latin American partner dance (salsa being arguably the most popular and practised), which is fuelled by the characterful sounds of the accordion and the triangle.
Originating in the northeast of Brazil, the popularity of forró throughout the world has grown and grown in recent years with club nights and lessons popping up here and there providing daily dancing options. For those forrózeiros lucky enough to live in London, armed with a fully topped up Oyster card, the opportunities for forró fun are endless, and so to help you find your feet we’ve prepared this special guide, so read on, grab your partner and get moving!
For North London dancers, Forró Family is the best bet for a weekly dose. Held every Tuesday at Bar 3one7 in West Hampstead, this is a traditional forró night with a regular crowd. If you’re worried your two left feet will hold you back, fear not as a £5 fee (£3 for concessions) includes dance classes from 8 until 9 when the pros arrive and the doors open for free to everyone. Having only been around for a year – celebrating their 1st birthday this month, the Forró Family has attracted so many that it has changed venues throughout the year in order to accommodate the number of keen dancers flocking to North London each week.
The Castle, 452 Fichley Road, Golders Green, NW11 8DG [This is a new address]
forrofamily.art.officelive.com 07834 465 577
Forró do Galpão
If you’re looking for a night of authentic forró pé de serra on a Thursday, make your way East to the Forró do Galpão at Corbet Place. For forró aficionados, this is one of the best around. Not sleazy, just laid back live forró. Despite being situated in the heart of Shoreditch, once you’re inside the venue with its exposed brick walls, wooden floors with the live band ringing authentic music in your ears, it’s easy to forget you are in uber trendy East London and not in a club in Itaúnas, the capital of forró. With dance classes from 7pm at £5, it’s cheaper than flying to Brasil for a lesson. Combined with the predominantly Brasilian crowd and authentic atmosphere – loud, hot and barefoot – you’ll barely know the difference! Four years (also celebrated this month) of successful forró nights and an invitation to be part of this summer’s City of London festival representing forró can’t be wrong.
Corbet Place, 15 Hanbury Street, Ely’s Yard – E1
myspace.com/corbetplace 020 7770 6028
The oldest forró night takes place every Sunday in Central London at Guanabara, London’s largest exclusively Brasilian bar. The night – including dance classes at 6.30 – is free before 9 and £5 afterwards. Although Guanabara attracts an ‘after-work crowd’ throughout the week, Sunday’s are reserved for Braslians. Expect to see a few playboys in their shiny trainers and back-to-front caps. Once the regular band Zeu Azevedo and Forrodaki take to the stage the dancefloor comes alive with experienced and new dancers moving cheek to cheek. This is also the night to go to on a Bank Holiday Sunday when the party goes on until 4am, with interludes of the latest axé (when the playboys come alive, showing the routines for all to follow), baile funk and some more Carnival-esque music (think Ivete Sangalo…).
Guanabara, Parker Street – WC2B 5PW
guanabara.co.uk 020 7242 8600
At a glance – where to dance Forró every night of the week!
London may not have had the most convincing of Indian summers, but if forró’s the thing for you, you can see how easy it is to keep yours Brazilian!
Forró do Coco @ Coco Bamboo
If those nights aren’t enough and you want more forró throughout your week, there’s Forró do Coco on Monday’s in Camden. £3 entry and cairipinhas and beers at £1.50 – an absolute steal.
48 Chalk Farm Road – NW1 8AJ
cocobamboo.co.uk 020 7267 6613
For those whose Oyster doesn’t stretch to Hampstead, make your way to Bar Salsa on a Tuesday. Not for forró purists as the music only starts from about 8.30pm until 10pm when DJ Fred mixes in a little axe and baile funk. There is always a live band although their blends of MPB, forró and bossa nova music may frustrate you.
96 Charing Cross Road – WC2H 0JG
barsalsa.eu 020 7379 3277
And Forró Family @ Bar 3one7 – see above
Casa do Forró @ Club Aquarium
Located in the East again and on the first Wednesday of the month. A favourite among forró fanatics as the live band play in Aquarium nightclub all night long. There is a £3 entry fee after 7.30, although if you get there early enough, you can enjoy a free forró or zouk class and stay on to dance. The non-pretentious atmosphere guarantees a good time for newcomers to forró as well as those wanting to re-create good times in Brasil.
Club Aquarium, 262 Old Street – ECV1 9DD
clubaquarium.co.uk 020 7253 3558
Forró do Galpão at Corbet Place – see above
Back in the South of the City, Tia Maria in Vauxhall is the place to go for free forró on a Friday. Owing to its traditional feel – the owner is Brazilian and the food is…delicious – this night already has lots of support from London’s Brazilian crowd. A restaurant with a late license (10pm-3am) that has a band playing forró may be the perfect way to wrap up the week.
9A Victoria House, South Lambert Road, Vauxhall – SW8 1QT
0207 7939 700
If you prefer your Friday nights quiet to preserve energy for Saturdays – get to the Caipirinha Bar. As suggested they have an extensive cocktail menu and the music is as varied as the drinks. There is forró, and there is also samba, baile funk, some axe with salsa thrown into the mix. A winner for an intoxicating Latin experience.
177 Archway Road – N6 5BL
caipirinha-london.com 020 7287 1269
Guanabara – see above
By Karla Thomas