Cafe Brazil – Revolutionary for a Night

Cafe Brazil – Revolutionary for a Night
by By Irene Caselli

(March 26, 2004) Only my love for written media can bring me to share one of Santiago’s best kept secrets with the Santiago Times readers. Hidden deep in Barrio Brasil, on Avenida Cummings, is Café Brasil, one of Santiago’s coolest bars.

The inside of the bar is fascinating.

On the walls, images of Che Guevara, (Cuban songwriter) Silvio Rodriguez, (Chilean folk singer) Victor Jara, former President Salvador Allende and, of course, Chile’s national poet Pablo Neruda mingle with messages left by customers.

If the chubby owner is around and you feel courageous, you can ask him for a plumon (a marker) and leave your own mark on this wall of fame.

There’s also a miniature stage, where people play and sing (and at times announce political events)…

On a week day you can go there and have a quiet pint while chatting to some friends. A “chela,” a liter of Escudo, only costs 1200 pesos – US$1.90.

If you’re willing to have a long night out, you can go there during the weekend, when the bar is full of people, and there’s a very lively atmosphere.

At some point, someone will take out a guitar and start playing and singing (usually Silvio Rodriguez and Victor Jara). If the person on stage is one of your friends, then it means that the money spent on drinks has been worth it.

There’s more.

After drinks and folk songs, salsa music starts floating in the air, and then dancing becomes compulsory. You might end up on the improvised dance-floor with someone you’ve just met or, if you’re lucky enough, you’ve already planned that out.

Don’t be disappointed though if you find the place closed for a private party. Once it happened to me: they were hosting a party for Communist Party leader Gladys Marin, who had just returned from Cuba…

One of my friends says that after a few hours spent in Café Brasil, you start feeling like a political activist, a revolutionary even. It’s definitely worth a try