Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rich party - poor party

The class distinctions in Brazil can be striking. Generally speaking, those who have money in Brazil have A LOT of money. (The top 20% of Brazilians own 60% of the wealth.) Most Brazilians, however, live a very simple and often impoverished life. 

We exist somewhere in between in the widespread (and expanding) working/middle class. Our friends don’t have a lot of money, but they are not poor or desperate either. There are a few exceptions in our circle (that is to say some friends enjoy a more upper-middle class life), mostly lawyers and a few judges.

When it comes to parties, I’ll take the poor people’s parties any day. Occasionally we get invited to a party hosted by a wealthier friend. The food is fancy, yet often in curiously short supply. The best part, I suppose, is the aged scotch whiskey. Sorry to generalize, but we just went to such a party the other day and were reminded how sparse some of these chic parties can be.

We were celebrating a friend’s birthday. She had rented a room at a local chic restaurant and hired a DJ. And there was a birthday cake. That was it. It was a cash bar (draft beer was R$5 a glass, cocktails for R$12) and if you were hungry you could go to the public section of the restaurant and purchase a plate of pricey fancy food from the buffet (minimum R$20). So our (hungry, thirsty) night out congratulating our friend cost us R$40, with just a bite of cake.

Birthday parties among our more “regular” crowd include all the food you could possibly eat, endless glasses of cold beer, a great selection of pirated CDs and frequently live music by the musicians among our group. Total cost? If not zero, then a divided share of the beer expense.

A friend points out that if we made more money we would not notice the R$40 for the chic party. I suppose that’s true. But I do feel more at home among us regular folks.

(But keep those invitations to chic parties coming – especially if you have a boat!)


Kika Serra said...

Hey Jim!

I'll stick with the poor people's party any day too.

Thanks for recommending the Caipirinha Appreciation Society and helping us spread good Brazilian music around the globe.

If you're on Facebook, you're very welcome to join us at our group there:



Jim said...

Hi Kika - thanks for posting.

I LOVE your radio program. Best of luck to you!

bjs -- j

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective. My bf always says to eat a lot before going to those parties, because there is never enough food.