The class distinctions in Brazil can be striking. Generally speaking, those who have money in Brazil have A LOT of money. (The top 20% of Brazilians own 60% of the wealth.) Most Brazilians, however, live a very simple and often impoverished life.
We exist somewhere in between in the widespread (and expanding) working/middle class. Our friends don’t have a lot of money, but they are not poor or desperate either. There are a few exceptions in our circle (that is to say some friends enjoy a more upper-middle class life), mostly lawyers and a few judges.
When it comes to parties, I’ll take the poor people’s parties any day. Occasionally we get invited to a party hosted by a wealthier friend. The food is fancy, yet often in curiously short supply. The best part, I suppose, is the aged scotch whiskey. Sorry to generalize, but we just went to such a party the other day and were reminded how sparse some of these chic parties can be.
We were celebrating a friend’s birthday. She had rented a room at a local chic restaurant and hired a DJ. And there was a birthday cake. That was it. It was a cash bar (draft beer was R$5 a glass, cocktails for R$12) and if you were hungry you could go to the public section of the restaurant and purchase a plate of pricey fancy food from the buffet (minimum R$20). So our (hungry, thirsty) night out congratulating our friend cost us R$40, with just a bite of cake.
Birthday parties among our more “regular” crowd include all the food you could possibly eat, endless glasses of cold beer, a great selection of pirated CDs and frequently live music by the musicians among our group. Total cost? If not zero, then a divided share of the beer expense.
A friend points out that if we made more money we would not notice the R$40 for the chic party. I suppose that’s true. But I do feel more at home among us regular folks.
(But keep those invitations to chic parties coming – especially if you have a boat!)