Welcome to Club Regulars – The Face’s series spotlighting the DJs, promoters, performers and activists with love for their local scenes.
Hailing from São Paolo, Laura Diaz is the co-founder of liberal club night Mamba Negra. Having set the night up as a response to the far-right politics affecting Brazil, the night has become an iconic landmark in the independent party scene in her hometown. While the city is known for its vibrant, diverse street parties, it’s the growing underground rave scene which deserves our attention; not only are they the stomping ground for some of the most fearless performance artists, DJ’s and activists in Brazil, but they’re flying the flag for equality and, importantly, challenging the politics governed by far-right president Jair Bolsonaro – the anti-abortion politician in favour of weakening gun-control laws in order to tackle gun crime, and comparing homosexuality to paedophilia. Sounds like a lovely man.
Below we find out how punk inspired Diaz’s love for raving, the relationship between politics and Mamba Negra and the challenges she faces.
How did develop a passion for raving?
When I was a teenager, I started listening to punk. Between 2004–2008, I could experience what was still happening in São Paulo’s independent punk scene: a last offensive towards the skinhead fascist gang. We also had clubs with electro-post-punk and electronic music parties, but it was kind of normative. At the same time, in 2009, downtown Sao Paulo began to see new independent parties that mixed Brazilian music with electronic music, performance, video-mapping and live acts.
These parties began to happen in many different places: parking lots, old buildings, small venues and on the street and public spaces – the night scene and the music somehow began to happen outside the traditional clubs. That’s when I got involved with this artistic effervescence; when I understood that it could turn into an important cultural movement and a political weapon. In 2013 Carol Schutzer and I created Mamba Negra with an acidic, venomous and political identity as a necessity, and as an effort to build a space to work, to be who we are and to be protagonists with many other women and LGBTQ+.
What’s special about your local club scene?
The most special thing about our local scene is that it was born and built outside the clubs. We, as independent parties, represent a way of working and connecting networks with cultural/artistic actuation. Here in Brazil, the idea and experience of “clubs” are much more associated with business ruled by white heteronormative men, not rarely Bolsonarists. What we do with independent parties, on the streets and small venues is part of a historical response from women and the LGBTQ+ community to the entertainment monopoly and real estate speculation in São Paulo, taking spaces where we can develop free expression.
What’s special about your party in particular?
We’re on our 666th birthday right now, in May 2019. The independent scene got much stronger since 10 years ago. With all the legal difficulties, the real estate speculation offensive and political morality ruling the country, we've been opening new paths with our work and learning from all the bereavement, reinventing ourselves. The fact that we still remain as an independent party made by two girls, confronting the entertainment mafia of São Paulo with many other LGBTQ+ parties, collectives and activists is something special for all of us. We’re never alone.
What challenges does your scene face?
Politicians and city hall disability to understand and deal with basic measures towards culture and independent artists and collectives from São Paulo. It’s almost impossible to carry on doing the independent parties and street parties – the location owners raised the rent over 300% in the last three years, the coasts of documentation were raised six times, bathrooms, ambulance and medical support and all rented structures have been raised with inflation. Now, Bolsonaro’s are dismantling Brazil: education, civil rights, openly stimulating violence (especially towards women and LGBTQ+). At the same time, we see lots of new foreign festivals happening in Sao Paulo, and new clubs and resto-bars from the same white heteronormative Bolsonarist owners opening every day.
If someone is visiting Sao Paulo, where do you recommend they go?
Of all the stuff you’ve achieved so far, what are you most proud of?
I’m grateful for being with so many inspiring people for so many years, especially women. I’m also proud of having the opportunities to give back this electricity with Mamba, as Carneosso and Teto Preto. Teto Preto’s first LP, Pedra Preta was released on vinyl in 2018 by MAMBAREC. Pedra Preta’s video clips, written, edited, produced and co-directed by me, was performed by many artists that are part of our scene. It was recorded on the first Monday after Bolsonaro’s election. It meant and still means a lot for us.
Any other DJs/promoters/performers from the scene you’d like to shout out?
@ohmuss (DJ and producer), @valentudo (DJ and performer), @stefanie_egedy (DJ and producer), @mariherzer (DJ and producer), Kakubo (DJ and producer), Guilherrrmo, DUE (DJ), @jjjulianar (musician), @erica__live (musician), @a.dama.da.noite (musician), @venus__rising (musician), @aliceguel__ (musician), @mcdellacroix (musician), @mariaberaldo_ (musician), @salnasalada (musician), @estudiomargem (designer), @wwwmiwiwww (lighting and installation), Ana Giselle (performer), Euvira (performer), Alma Negrot (performer), Kitty Kawakubo (performer), Slim Soledad (performer), Aun Helden (performer).