Event producer Artur Santoro turns heads. As he struts down the streets of Salvador, Brazil in high heels and fishnets, people turn, stare, and shout homophobic slurs. But he holds his head of purple hair up high. Living in a country where someone from the LGBTQ community is killed every 19 hours, he knows how vital a space to safely express yourself can be. That's why he collaborated with Wesley Miranda, Maurício Sacramento, and their powerful collective to create a transformative space in the form of dance parties called BATEKOO.
A new episode of Red Bull Music's docuseries Inspire the Night showcases the collection of individuals who put on the show amid the personal and political challenges they face in Brazil.
“The ghetto youth have no economic or social condition, but they have the power to create their own culture,” activist and artist Leci Brandão says early in the episode.
The founders of BATEKOO were intentional about creating a space that centered black people. In Salvador, 80 percent of the population is black and still facing rampant discrimination like being paid half as much as white people and denied entrance into upscale restaurants. BATEKOO was always designed to center black patrons and DJs as well as the LGBTQ community. It has expanded to include events in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and this year, for the first time, it had a huge presence during Carnival called Carnakoo. The impact is personal, political, and unstoppable. "Just the fact that there are gays, fat people, and trans people in the same place having fun, the subversion is already happening," Santoro says.
Watch the Inspire the Night episode on BATEKOO below.