Peeping Brazilian

Ginga Multicultural Center Fund-raiser

Text & Photos By: Shannon Kelley Gould

Once you’ve done any amount of time in Santa Barbara, you realize there’s quite a bit of Brazilian blood coursing through the city’s collective veins. And, I thought recently while pondering my peeping possibilities, it’s high time I check out one of their events. So, last week, as the invites piled up in my inbox like so many mini-quiches on my plate at a cocktail party, the one calling me to Friday’s fund-raiser for Ginga Multicultural Center at Reds, in the heart of the Funk Zone, was the one that grabbed my attention.

I arrived that evening as the center’s founders — dancer, musician, and instructor Vanessa Isaac; capoeira guru Daniel Yoshimi, a k a Instructor Chin; and business-savvy dancer Jessica Zavala — put the finishing touches on the evening’s grub. The muqueca, a traditional Brazilian fish stew, filled the café with its intoxicating, exotic, coconutty scent, beckoning the guests to the table and undoubtedly summoning memories of home for those lucky enough to have ever had such deliciousness simmering on their stoves. As for me, I’d wondered how this tight-knit crew might feel about me infiltrating one of their events but found everyone was as friendly as could be. And, as Reds began to fill, in classic Santa Barbara two-degrees-of-separation style, I spotted several familiar faces: the kind of merging of the worlds that Santa Barbara is so reliably good for, the kind that makes you feel right at home wherever you might be. Soon enough, the entertainment got going, and what a show it was.

The amazingly talented Ana Valladares took the stage, accompanied by Marcus Chevitarese on guitar, and sang her way through everything from the classic “Careless Love” to Radiohead’s “No Surprises.” She blew everyone away, so when it was time for the drummers to take their spots at the skins, the crowd was raring to go, and so was I. There’s nothing like shaking it to the rhythms of a crew of amazing drummers to get your soul smiling, and there’s nothing like a taste of Brazil right here in Santa Barbara to remind you there’s no place like home.

4•1•1 For info about the Ginga Multicultural Center, call 963-6080 or visit

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