Yes, you read right, this post is about Asian nightclubs in São Paulo, Brazil.
When I lived in New York, I spent many nights, some memorable and some memory-less, at a certain Asian nightlife establishment. It was such a regular part of my social life that when I relocated to São Paulo for work for half a year, many of my friends asked me half-jokingly if I was missing Circle (the go-to Korean nightclub in NYC).
Well, imagine my surprise when I heard that Asian clubbing exists in São Paulo too! I knew that I had to make some Asian friends in Sao Paulo and ask them to take me to one of these clubs…
A little known fact about Sao Paulo is that it is actually the metro area with the largest number of Japanese descendants, outside of Japan. The Japanese arrived in Brazil in droves about 100 years ago, so most Japanese Brazilians are 3rd or 4th generation. Most don’t know how to speak Japanese, and neither do their parents!
Due to the friendly nature of Brazilians and my good fortune, within a month of being in Sao Paulo, I befriended a couple Japanese Brazilians. I went Asian clubbing with them several times and they gave me the fascinating inside scoop on Asian nightlife there!
While the best Asian nightclubs in NYC are run by Koreans, in São Paulo they’re run by Japanese Brazilians. The clubs are known as Balada Japa (“Japanese nightclub”), since most Asians in Brazil are of Japanese descent.
My “Japa” friends in São Paulo took me Asian clubbing a couple times. Unlike in New York, where the parties are relatively small due to the size of venues, these São Paulo Asian events are huge and always packed! Seeing a swarm of 1,000+ Asians who only speak Portuguese was amazing and exciting to me. I was getting a 100% immersion experience to Japanese Brazilian life in Brazil.
These parties, with names like “Glow”, “A Night in Hollywood”, and even “Asian Zone”, play regular Brazilian club music: Brazilian pop (everyone goes crazy and sings at the top of their lungs when “aí se eu te pego” comes on), American pop (like Taylor Swift), Brazilian sertanejo, and commercial dance music.
The only thing that makes the clubs “Asian” is the clientele. It was really trippy for me to see a club full of Asians whose mother tongue is Portuguese. I would say that the clubs’ demographic is 90% Asians, with rest being friends of the japas who brought them there.
Due to the drinking age, compared to in New York, the clubbers seemed a lot younger. Many look to be university or high school students. Besides their youthful looks, one clue that gave their “immaturity” away was that there was always a line of kids passed out along the walls or on the couches….
A producer of the Asian events remarked that these parties are Asian-interest to promote the community spirit and unity of the Japanese Brazilian community, so that folks remember their roots. Apparently Japa clubs began to appear way back in the 1980s!
There are a couple different event promoters that host the parties. None of the promoters have a fixed space and schedule, so you have to check their sites or Facebook pages to find and when and where the next parties are.
Check out the agenda for each group here:
I got a huge kick out of the bizarre situation of going out clubbing with hundreds of Asians in Brazil, of all places, and getting hit on by Asian guys telling me I’m beautiful in Portuguese! Another reason I love the diversity here 🙂
Here´s a video!
See my Rules of Thumb when Clubbing in Brazil – they to Asian clubbing in Brazil as well!
Also read my own take on what it is like to be Asian in Brazil.
Have an Asian food craving while in Brazil and other South American countries? Here is the rundown of where the Asian neighborhoods are.