Meet Batekoo: The LGBTQ+ Collective Lighting up the Streets of Brazil
Batekoo is more than just a party collective. Proudly originating from Salvador, they’re a force within the Brazilian LGBTQ+ POC community ready to continue their mission of banishing homophobia and enlightening the youths of Brazil. Unapologetically rewriting the nightlife narrative for many queer POC Brazilians, we spoke to some of members of Batekoo, Maurico Sacramento, Deize Tigrona and Eliabe Freitas, who are helping fight fascism by building a legacy that many worldwide are eager to experience.
“Representation matters. We want the people who come to our parties to see themselves reflected in others. That’s why we travel to the favelas and let our presence be known”.
The cultural dialogue surrounding the music they play is equally as important to them as making sure every experience at a Batekoo event is different. “Funk is essential to our culture, especially in Brazil - our culture helps define who we are. Our parties are never the same. What you may hear at one party in São Paulo will be different from what you hear at one party in Salvador or a party in Rio. We always try to include all the elements of Brazil wherever we go” co-founder Maurício explains.
Spreading the message of love, safety and funk while pushing boundaries for more LGBTQ+ POC spaces, their name translates as “shake that ass”, a personal statement that celebrates movement, blackness and freedom. In the last four years, there’s been a robust universal dialogue surrounding many LGBTQ+ POC collectives making waves for themselves around the world like Pxssy Palace (London) and Papi Juice (NYC).
After conquering Afropunk Brooklyn and New York City’s Summerstage Festival, Batekoo is continuing to evolve their legacy by embarking on a debut European tour ready to shake up Amsterdam, Portugal and Berlin. Currently in London after tearing down the Boiler Room’s first-ever festival alongside BBZ, Shy One and SHERELLE, Batekoo are on a mission making their statement loud and clear - BLACK QUEER LIVES MATTER. “This is the first festival we’ve played in,” Eliabe tells me. “We started in Madrid, then we went to Milan, Belgium, Amsterdam and now we’re here in the UK. It’s all crazy. Meeting people in our community from across the world and experiencing freedom with them is why we started Batekoo”.
From CHA CHÁ CLUB in Madrid to the Somerset House Studios in London, their debut European tour sees the trio spread their culture and push boundaries by telling their story. Elisabe tells me “It does get tiring, but we don’t have any other purpose than to resist because we need to be in those spaces. The mindset of our culture doesn’t welcome us to be ourselves, so we understand that our events act as a gate of freedom for people in our community. Most spaces are very excluding, and we want people to know that we are a safe space”. At this current moment, Brazil is facing its toughest time yet, politically, with their right-wing, racist and homophobic president Jair Bolsonaro. Statistically, every 19 hours a member of the LGBTQ+ community is murdered on the streets of Brazil, with a majority of those people being trans POC.
Founded in 2014 by Maurício Sacramento and Wesley Miranda, the collective built their legacy on the party streets of São Paulo. Ready to unite marginalised communities across the cities in Brazil, Maurício explains why it was vital for them to venture out to other cities in Brazil and spread the message of love and acceptance. “Representation matters. We want the people who come to our parties to see themselves reflected in others. That’s why we travel to the favelas and let our presence be known”.
Understanding the adversities the trans community face daily, founder Maurício explains why they put the trans poc community first. “We focus on them more because we understand the struggles they go through. At every Baketoo event, we have a ‘Trans Free’ list where trans people of colour can get in without having to pay anything”. But isn’t just free entry into their night events that the collective offer. “We look after them so we provide job opportunities and have events that allow them to gain skills so they can have a profession and work in all areas. We understand the trends that society puts them in where because they are trans, they can only be prostitutes or hairdressers. They must know you can do whatever you want and be whoever you want by giving them the tools for them to learn and incorporate in their work”.
“It’s imperative that everyone in our community knows that anything is possible. You don’t have to stop because you’re black or gay. You don’t have to accept the Eurocentric culture that we have in our country. You don’t need to listen to white culture, telling you’re only allowed to do certain things. You can do anything you want to, and we want to make sure that we represent that mindset and let our community know what they are capable of”.
The future for Batekoo is all about putting urban, black, and Afro-diasporic culture within the LGBTQ+ community first. With the launch of their record label flourishing; offering comfort and encouragement to LGBTQ+ black artists, the São Paulo collective want to make one thing clear. “Respect trans people. Respect gay people and above all respect black people because if you’re here in our space, it's because we’ve allowed you to be here”.