Clube das Pás [Club of the Shovels]
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Last update: 29/12/2016
The Clube das Pás [Club of the Shovels] is one of the great carnival clubs of Pernambuco. On the origin and history of the club, one of its presidents – Antônio Rodrigues da Costa, nicknamed Antônio Portuguese – once granted an interview and related the information recorded below.
On the first day of the 1887 Carnival, in the Port of Recife, located in the neighbourhood of Recife, an English ship was anchored waiting to load coal and food. There was shortage of labour, and it was hard to find stokers to supply the vessel, which could only be moored in the harbour for twelve hours. With no alternative, the ship’s company offered a larger sum of money to those stokers who would work. Only then could the ship be loaded and set sail as scheduled.
Very happy with the amount received, the stokers went to celebrate at the Clube dos Caiadores [Whitewashers’ Club]. There, between one dance and another, they decided to create the Bloco das Pás de Carvão [Coal Shovels Carnival Block]. Among the founders of the block were: Francisco Ricardo Borges, Manuel Ricardo Borges, João da Cruz Ferreira and João dos Santos. And for the block’s headquarters, land owned by the Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Glória do Recife, Conceição de Olinda e Sagrado Coração de Jesus de Igarassu [Our Lady of Glory of Recife, Conception of Olinda and Sacred Heart of Jesus of Igarassu Shelter], was bought for six thousand cruzeiros.
The Bloco das Pás de Carvão paraded in the 1888, 1889 and 1890 Carnivals. In March of the last year, however, it changed its name to Clube Carnavalesco Misto das Pás [Shovel Mixed Carnival Club]. The first printed news about it was published on 4 March 1905 in the Diário de Pernambuco newspaper. On every 13 May – the Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery – the club paraded in Recife, in honour of the Pernambuco abolitionist Joaquim Nabuco.
Many carnival clubs have been formed by corporations of urban workers and embedded with elements of religious processions, which were prohibited by the ecclesiastical authorities. Among the transplanted elements are the cordons of spearmen, masks, devils, baton twirlers, jesters, bats and leading ladies. In this light, in the late 19th and early 20th century, the following carnival clubs arose in Recife: Clube das Pás (1888), Vassourinhas [Little brums] (1889), Lenhadores [Lumberjacks] (1889), Toureiros de Santo Antônio [Santo Antônio Bullfighters] (1914) Pão Duro [Hard Bread] (1916), Pavão Misterioso [Mysterious Peacock] (1919) and others.
The parade’s opening is by the director of the club. He enters dressed in a tuxedo and with a top hat on his head, and is accompanied by baton twirlers, standard-bearers, bats, dancers, the leading committee, two strands of men and women, all of them making dancing. At the end comes the orchestra playing frevo music.
The Clube das Pás has the oldest standard, dating from the early 20th century. The first was made of velvet, padded with cotton, lined with satin and embroidered with gold thread. The standard was designed by Manoel de Matos, and it was made by the Benedictine nuns of the Olinda’s Convent of the Mount. In the design are acanthus leaves and other Baroque elements, the Club’s Monogram, plus golden fringes and pendants. Also on it are two masks and a doll made of French porcelain. This Parisian doll was brought by former standard-bearer tailor Manuel das Chagas, a famous reveller. The current standard was made by Maria do Monte, a former student and embroiderer of the nuns of Olinda’s Convent of Our Lady of the Mount in 1980.
The Clube das Pás is the most traditional dancehall in Pernambuco; and in addition to Carnival frevo, its orchestra plays rumbas, salsas, meringues, forrós, tangos, boleros and sambas. Eraldo Gomes do Rego has been the club’s president since 2004, and Zene dos Anjos Bezerra its vice-president. There is also an executive board and governing council.
Known for generations, the Clube das Pás has been mentioned in a few frevos, such as Voltei Recife [I Returned, Recife] composed by Luis Bandeira, who enriched the folklore of Northeast Brazil. His lyrics are as follows:
Foi a saudade que me trouxe pelo braço,
Quero ver novamente Vassoura
Na rua abafando,
Tomar umas e outras
E cair no passo.
Cadê Bola de Ouro?
As Pás, Os lenhadores,
O Bloco Batutas de São José?
A embriaguez do frevo,
Que entra na cabeça
Depois toma o corpo
E acaba no pé.
I came back, Recife
It was the longing that brought me by the arm,
I want again to see Vassoura
Rocking on the streets,
Have one [drink] and others
And fall into the rhythm.
Where is Toureiros?
Where is Bola de Ouro?
Bloco Batutas de São José?
I want to feel
The drunkenness of frevo,
Entering my head
Then taking my body
And finishing in my feet.
The Clube das Pás operates from 263 Rua Odorico Mendes in Campo Grande, being open to the public five days a week. Here is its schedule: 1. Monday: Third Age Party (6-10pm); 2. Wednesday: Wednesday Dancing (6-10pm); 3. Friday: Pás on Friday (10pm-4am); 4. Saturday: Pás Sábadonas [Big Saturdays] (10pm-4am); 5. Sunday: Traditional Happy Sunday (5-10pm).
Whoever wants to confirm the popularity of the club, just buy a ticket and “get lost in the dance.” It’s the right kind of fun!
Recife, 26 April 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, September 2016.
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Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Clube das Pás [Club of the Shovels]. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Acesso em: dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.