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Brazilians find “spiritual home” in Perth seaside Scarborough

Walking on the beach in Perth’s coastal suburb Scarborough, you could be forgiven for thinking you were strolling along Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro. 

Portuguese voices ring out as samba drumbeats play and couples dance forró in the beachside amphitheatre.

Colloquially, Scarborough is known as Scar-Brazil and the Portuguese language is second only to English in the suburb.

man dances in the sun with crowd
Perth’s Brazilian community call the beachside suburb of Scarborough home.(Supplied: Aline Kuba)

About 2.3 per cent of the Scarborough population speak Portuguese at home compared to 0.4 per cent in greater Perth and 0.7 per cent in the local government area, the City of Stirling.

About 10,000 revellers recently packed the beachfront for Scarborough’s annual version of Brazil’s famous Carnival celebration.

woman dancing in the crowd
Thousands packed the Scarborough foreshore to celebrate Carnival.(Supplied: Aline Kuba)

“Brazilians love surfing and beach culture, so for this reason, they find their spiritual home here in Scarborough,” Carnival organiser and professional samba musician Nunzio “Moskito” Toscano said.

“The Brazilian community here rises up very strong in the last 10 years. As soon as I arrived here, I saw [Scarborough] as the best spot to make the Brazilian Carnival in Perth,” he said.

woman dancing in colourful feather headdress
Jessica Silva says she’s proud to share her Brazilian culture with the Perth community.(Supplied: Aline Kuba)

“I was living in North Fremantle then I moved to Scarborough, and I came to the amphitheatre [for] the first time and I said, ‘Wow, one day I need to organise a carnival here.'”

There have been four Brazilian Carnival events at Scarborough Beach, with attendance growing each year.

man waves to a large crowd with samba dancers and drummers behind him
Nunzio “Moskito” Toscano waves to the crowd after the finale.(Supplied: Aline Kuba)

Enticing beach lifestyle

Honorary Vice-Consul for Brazil in Western Australia Ester Steingiesser said the beach lifestyle in Scarborough was a major drawcard.

“The beach in Scarborough was the main attraction to the Brazilians that came from the same environment in Brazil,” she said.

Frevo dancers with colourful umbrellas and skirts
Frevo is a high-energy dance aoriginating in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco.(Supplied: Aline Kuba)

“The last Census gave us the number of Brazilians in WA as around 5,000; the [number of] Brazilian students in WA is between 1,300 to 1,500.”

Keeping culture alive 

Scarborough local Aline Arruda started a not-for-profit Brazilian cultural centre, language school and bookshop called Projeto Cabana, to keep the language and cultural ties strong for the next generation of Brazilian Australians.

A crowed of people dancing.
People made the most of the warm weather for the annual Brazilian Beach Carnival. (Supplied: Aline Kuba)

“I had kids and then I really, really wanted them to speak Portuguese, I never thought about a world where my kids wouldn’t be able to connect with my family [in Brazil].

“I wanted my kids to connect with the culture as well, not just the language.

“They need to know why we eat rice and beans, why we like our music so loud, why we dance so much, because this is our background.”

Ms Arruda said there had also been a positive response to adult Portuguese language classes.

A woman wears a golden headpiece in a crowd of dancers.
Colloquially, Scarborough is known as Scar-Brazil.(Supplied: Aline Kuba)

“Classes for adults are so important for us because we really want to show that you can come and feel welcome,” she said.

“We like we are a warm people. We love connecting with people from all over the world.”

Brazilian dancer and choreographer Jessica Silva said being able to share her culture and dance with Australians since she arrived 12 years ago had been rewarding.

A woman in a blue singlet and denim shorst dances with a crowd behind her.
Ms Silva says she’s seen the Perth community embrace Brazilian dance and culture. (Supplied: Aline Kuba)

“I started dancing at a young age in Sao Paolo, and when I moved here to Australia I never imagined that I could keep my dream and my passion for samba alive,” she said.

“Here I found this amazing Samba community that gave me the opportunity to share with them my love [of dance].

woman with microphone dancing in front of a band
Maira Trindade performs at the Scarborough Beach Carnival with the Frevo Orchestra.(Supplied: Aline Kuba)

“There has been such a positive response from the Perth community, they embrace our culture and we actually have so many women from here in Australia performing and dancing with us.”

City of Stirling Mayor Mark Irwin said the event was a great example of the diversity in the area. 

“Our large South American community know how to throw a party and this was [also] on show last month at our Community Citizenship event,” he said. 

“The unique and passionate celebrations of six Brazilians captured the attention of the attendees and the media.”

Source: abc