A Brazilian word we need to know.


The word is brazucada.

It comes from “brazuca” in Portuguese which is slang for “Brazilian.” When you have a large crowd of Brazilians all in one place — like we increasingly do here on Martha’s Vineyard — the expression becomes “brazucada.”

And on March 3, from 3 to 9 pm, at the Loft in Oak Bluffs, there will be a true brazucada as the popular nightclub in Oak Bluffs will be hosting for the first time a very Brazilian tradition: a carnival party.

Carnival happens at the same time people celebrate Mardi Gras in the U.S. In Brazil, people take over the streets in the heat of summer to dance and sing. But here on the Island in the bleak midwinter, the party will happen indoors.

“I’m excited to bring some Brazilian summer to the Island’s winter,” said Redon Gega, a manager for the Loft. Over a hundred people have already bought tickets and Gega expects many more to attend the party.

Brazilian immigrants work around the clock in cleaning, landscaping, construction, and restaurant industry jobs, but they say they lack cultural entertainment, especially in the winter, when work slows down. Increasingly, businesses and services have seen an opportunity to cater to the community’s needs: from Brazilian music parties in night clubs to a traditional Brazilian menu in restaurants; Brazilian cheese bread or sweets like brigadeiro sharing space with croissants and cupcakes on bakery shelves. Little by little, Americans are also getting to know more and enjoy the cultural exchange.

Brazilians have steadily migrated to the Island in the past several decades and now represent at least 20 percent of the Island population and the second most spoken language after English is Portuguese, according to the 2021 Dukes County rural health assessment.

“The idea is to bring a bit of Brazil here to the people who are here and whose lives are only work and more work,” said Maurício Clemente, or Mau Mau, the lead singer of the band Ai Delícia, which will be the main attraction at Carna Ressaca, or “Carnival Hangover.” He said it’s also an opportunity to vary the local landscape dominated by live country music. The band plays “axé music” and “pagodão,” two rhythms typical of Bahia state rooted in African-Brazilian traditions.

Besides the band, Heleno Santos, known as DJ Metralha, will play carnival songs from all over Brazil. Since October, he has been playing Brazilian music at the Loft for a dancing crowd of a hundred Brazilians on average every Saturday. The Loft has successfully hosted the so-called “Brazilian Nights” for two years now — one of the few consistent Brazilian cultural options in the Island.

“People work a lot, so it’s important to also have some leisure days,” said Meiroka Nunes, a Brazilian community organizer. She said events focused on the Brazilian community make “people feel at home, feel welcomed.” Nunes created the go-to Facebook group for the community, named  “Brazukada,” with a “k”, just like in her name. It is indeed a word that you hear everywhere in the Brazilian community on this Island. In fact, the word is so popular Brazil voted for the root word, “brazuca,” to be the name of the Adidas soccer ball for the Brazilian World Cup in 2014. Nunes chose the popular expression to create the Facebook group because so many in the community lacked information, especially newcomers. It currently has 11,000 members.

“It’s the best way to reach the Brazilian community. I’d never be able to reach so many people in another way,” said Alesha Moraes, one of the Carnival party organizers.

The Facebook group is where people ask for help with their needs, support campaigns to help members, advertise their business, and to find out about what’s going on, for example, in their children’s schools. Nunes herself helps however she can: organizing clothing and food donations and directing people to resources. Most recently, she is urging people to join the education discussion on the Island. And she said she wishes there were more cultural options for the community, too, especially as the Brazilian population increased in the past few years.

The Loft is not the only business that found an opportunity in this growing population. The Barn Bowl & Bistro has adopted a Brazilian menu that has grown so popular it prompted the restaurant to bring back Sunday service, which they have not done since the pandemic.

The restaurant has taught Americans the meaning of a Brazilian word: “rodízio” by hearing the word and tasting the dish. It means barbecue, but the Brazilian way: servers walk around with skewers bringing several meat options such as picanha (sirloin) and chicken hearts to the tables.

“Any other restaurant that doesn’t cater to the Brazilian community is missing the boat,” said Mike Sawyer, the owner of the Barn Bowl & Bistro, who started with Brazilian barbecue nights about three months ago.

“They are wonderful customers, they spend a lot of money, they treat our employees with a lot of respect and they deserve to have more food options and events and programs designed for what they like,” he said.

Then, Sawyer learned that Sunday would be a preferred day many Brazilians would come for the rodízio, too. He started offering that option about five weeks ago and has been able to attract around 200 people while open from 11:30 am to 8 pm. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been open on Sundays,” he said.

Sawyer added other traditional Brazilian barbecue items such as rice, feijão tropeiro (beans with kale and chorizo) and tomato vinaigrette sauce. He has also increasingly hired more Brazilian employees who can speak Portuguese with the customers, and bought not only a barbecue high-temperature skew roster but also a beer refrigerator that cools the beer to very cold temperatures to cater to the Brazilian taste. Sawyer said he also saw faces lighting up when he played Brazilian music on the speakers as he hoped to offer “a home outside home,” he said.

“The Brazilian community obviously loves it and it’s affordable. By accident we educated the American community about something that’s important to Brazilian culture. A lot of Brazilains and Americans are coming,” he said.

At the Vineyard Grocer in Vineyard Haven, Brazilians find another piece of home along rows filled with imported products from different parts of Brazil. A colorful chocolate Easter egg row hangs near the ceiling near a selection of fresh cheese.

Gilvado Lopes, one of the customers there, said that he misses the cultural vibrancy of his state of Pernambuco, where many parties, like carnival, bring thousands of people to the streets. “I miss Carnival a lot, we had so much fun during this time there (in Brazil),” he said. Lopes has been on Martha’s Vineyard for a year and a half and enjoys going to Brazilian Night at the Loft. “I’d feel more at home if there were more Brazilian cultural options here,” he said.

For Nunes, the community organizer, brazukada also means the Brazilian community’s solidarity and its drive to build a better life in the U.S. “Brazukada is this crowd here who wants to get together, who wants to win together and to live well,” Nunes said.



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