Between Christmas presents and a turkey, a new word has crept into our lives

– like far too many others in the past two years. Omicron.

(from ForróLetters #3)

Three syllables and all they represent: new routine, new restrictions, and depending on the country, masks becoming mandatory outside again, night clubs being closed again, and the return of curfews.

For us forrozeiras and forrozeiros, it is once again becoming more difficult to get together to dance. We saw it a few weeks ago with the Lisbon “Baião Vai” festival, cancelled at the last minute. With the new restrictions it would have been impossible to safely organize a festival for 600 people.

Forró is more than just a dance. It’s conviviality, friends and socialising in a caring community, dances that uplift the soul when the magic of connection happens between you and your dance partner. A good dose of hugs, and a cocktail of endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin: the hormones of happiness! This is why it is so difficult to live without forró during this pandemic. Because we need it more than ever.

It is in this context of pandemic and restrictions, that the song, “Danser encore” (Dancing again), had such a big impact in France, then Europe at large, in March 2021. Composed in December 2020, just after the announcement of the second lockdown in France, this song from the band HK et les Saltimbanks is a cry from the heart who’s words express a pain and an absence which recentralize the discussion about how crucial human contact and bonding are to our mental and physical wellbeing. “Danser encore” has now been translated into many languages such as German, Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese!

After the “Danser encore” flash mob of March 4th, 2021 at Gare du Nord (Paris, France) the french musician and forrozeira Marion Sanfoneira immediately thought of making a forró version of the song and its forró flash mob! Indeed, the rhythm suited forró well and the lyrics described what many of the dancers were feeling.

In less than three weeks, Marion organised everything, wrote the music and contacted musicians and dancers. The song was recorded remotely, each musician playing on the base already recorded by Marion (Marion Sanfoneira on vocals and accordion, Thibaut Gueriaux on percussion, Jérôme Pablo Silva on 7-string guitar, Mariana Pilatos Corado on violin, Marisa Simon, Maya and Manu in backing vocals).

Three days before the flash mob, the song was finalised. The dancers who wanted to participate, around thirty in total, met on March 21, 2021 (while France was still under lockdown) for this flash mob, in the Jardin des Plantes, in the heart of Paris.

One year after the first lockdown, this cover by Marion Sanfoneira echoes that of “Bella Ciao” by Forró de KA recorded in April 2020, after many Italians, who were hit very hard during the first wave of the pandemic, had started singing this hymn from their balconies.

Forró de KA did a cover version of this song as a symbol of resistance and hope during this time of the pandemic.

This is what the Forró community is all about. We organise ourselves and we find a way to maintain our connection (as we did in Lisbon this December) with masks, open air, taking precautions, we just want, no, we NEED to keep on dancing.

“Everyone, let’s go dancing again

Dance and sing with all our friends

Let the good times never end…”