Cubo’s ‘Favela Presents: Tropical sound’, behind the namesake

People are questioning whether the use of the term ‘Favela’ is potentially culturally appropriative

The Tab Manchester has recently recieved several messages from readers concerned that Cubo’s “Favela Presents: Tropical Sound” night, happening this Friday (20th October) could be perceived as culturally appropriative, or offensive. We explored the namesake of the night, speaking to Cubo’s managers about the choice, and the origins of the term.

For those of you who are unaware, “favelas” are generally low-income areas found in the midst of Brazil’s large cities. These are areas often with high rates of crime and poverty, which frequently appear in the news linked with stories of gang warfare and murder.

Favela Presents: Tropical Sound, however, is a student oriented night playing UK Funky, Garage, Grime, Bashment and Disco. It would seem that neither of these genres have strong connotations with Brazil. UK Funky, Garage and Grime all originate from London, Bashment from Jamaica, whilst Disco comes from New York. It is not as if they are promoting music that has its roots in Brazil’s favelas such as Baile-Funk. And this has some people concerned that Cubo’s use of the word “favela” is potentially cosmetic.

So why have the night’s organizers called it Favela Presents? Many are guessing that they want to use the connotations of the term to promote their brand in order to sell more tickets. They could be trying to give the night a bit of vibrancy by drawing on conceptions of Brazil in popular culture as a warm, fun-loving party place. However, if this is the case, some students are pointing out that there are plenty of other words that they could use for this that aren’t so controversial, such as carnival or fiesta.

Could it be that they are hoping to use this controversy to give their night a bit of an “edge”? Hoping to amplify some of the negative traits of favelas to provide a Fallowfield student night with some authenticity by giving it a sense of grittiness?

Millions of Brazilians live in favelas, which are areas inhabited by a range of very different people who lead very different lives. Although I am sure that it wasn’t named so with malicious intent, using a term that carries many cultural meanings is potentially contentious. How would we react to a night in Sâo Paulo using the name “council estate” to attract ticket buyers for a night of Brazilian music?

We spoke to Edd Howe, general manager of Cubo Fallowfield to find out what the significance of the term “favela” is to the night.

“Favela is a student run club night that is diverse in many ways such as: genre, student crowd, varied in what it presents and each night sets out to achieve diversity in what they are presenting to their audience. Their first night at what was at the time, Koh Tao, last academic year, was one of the biggest nights of the year.”

“The boys who run it deserve a lot of credit for their efforts and a students questioning the connotations of favela should spend more time trying to contact the organisers to understand their aims, which are by no means negative.”

“The first favela was built by soldiers as a place for those, who had nowhere to live, to go. A place where poor citizens were forced to go live due to a lack of opportunity in the urban areas.”

“Cubo” actually means “hub” in Portuguese, and that’s what we aim to provide – a hub for students to DJ, for societies to host socials and for people to come together to support the many charity nights that we host.”

“Our aim is for Cubo, and the nights that students have the oppourtunity to host there, such as Favela Presents: Tropical Sound, to be inclusive and diverse; just as a favela is. A place of community.”

You can buy your tickets for the night here.