Ginga Multicultural Center Fund-raiser

Text & Photos By: Shannon Kelley

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

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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