Club Reg­u­lars 005: Lau­ra Diaz

As the co-founder of liberal São Paolo club night Mamba Negra, Laura Diaz is attempting to fight far-right Brazilian politics through raving.

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?

Inde­pen­dent par­ties, such as Cole­tivi­dade Namíbia, Batekoo, Mar­sha, Dusk, Ban­di­da Cole­ti­vo, Cal­do, San­gra Muta, Dan­do, Vam­pire Haus, Blum and ODD.

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 Pre­tas 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).

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