FICA Encounter 2008: Cheguei na Igreja e Não Confessei

The 2008 FICA Conference was a great success. Many thanks to FICA-Chicago for organizing such an outstanding event. It was truly one of the best conferences ever!!! We trained hard, ate well, met new friends,re-connected with old ones, swam in the lake, played with all the capoeira babies, stayed up too late, partied a bit, and, of course, played lots of capoeira.

Throughout the whole weekend, we enjoyed the presence of the three FICA mestres, Cobra Mansa, Valmir, and Jurandir, as well as Mestre Manoel from Grupo Ypiranga de Pastinha in Rio de Janeiro, and Contramestres Silvinho (FICA), Alcione (Angola Dobrada), and Chorão (Acupe de Brotas).

Opening roda at FICA-Chicago. (photo by Russell H)

People started arriving earlier in the week to help out, but the event began on Thursday night with a very energetic roda at the FICA-Chicago space.

Mestre Valmir in the roda with Shayna, FICA-NYC. (photo by T Gege).

Around 11 pm, we all piled into yellow and black school buses and made the journey to Camp Lawrence which is actually located in Valparaiso (or Valpo, as the locals call it), Indiana.

In the dark of night, we staked out our beds in the cabins and dorms-- one for men and one for women :)-- some brave souls pitched tents in the drizzle, and called it a night.

Acorda, dende.

A few hours later, M Cobra Mansa and his band of wandering minstrels paraded through the cabins and dorms to make sure everyone was awake and ready for breakfast at 6:30 am. It was a gray and rainy day, but after a bit of coffee and stretching everyone was ready for some capoeira. More capoeiristas arrived that morning to add to the fun. We had a great time training (2 classes the first day!), hanging out, and eating good food. After dinner, a little pagode broke out in the dining hall, and a little later, a roda started that went til 2 am.

On Saturday, the wandering bateria again roused all for the day. Back at the dining hall, Mestre Cobra Mansa gave a few late night revelers who had the bad luck to have held a lively, loud conversation outside his window the night before an early morning lesson.

CM Alcione leads class. (photo by Russell H)

We were all a bit more exhausted then Friday morning, but the great breakfast and the shining sun got us going. After the first class, many capoeiristas jumped-- or were thrown -- into the lake for a refreshing swim. Following lunch, we trained some more and there was a nice discussion about capoeira as an international phenomenon with Mestres Cobra Mansa, Valmir, and Manoel.

Nossa Senhora da Mata. (photo by T Gege)

Later that night, we had a really amazing roda. Camp Lawrence is actually a Christian camp, and there is a little chapel called Our Lady of the Forest, set up on a hill a little behind the camp. It is small and intimate, but it has high celings. Also, a little bird lived there.

Deepa O (as in Oakland) vadiando with T Beto in the little green church on the hill. (photo by T Gege).

The sound was tight and the energy was close. The roda rocked the little church into the wee hours of the morning. It was real nice.

M Cobra Mansa and Huu at the closing roda. (photo by T Gege)

Sunday started off right with french toast (yes, french toast. the food at this conference was amazing) served up by Mama Geni and her cooking crew. We had a FICA general meeting to go over group business while those non-FICA members at the conference got to do a class with Mestre Manoel. Later, we had some cake to celebrate 10 years of FICA-Chicago, and got down to business with a closing roda.

On the bus. (photo by Russell H - btw, that's him right in the front)

In the afternoon, we piled back into the yellow and black buses to go our separate ways, all exhausted but richer in our knowledge of Capoeira Angola and in our friendships.

Of course, one of the great things about conferences is that you can see all your cappy friends in one place. This year, people from all over the world came to participate in the Chicago conference. Pretty much all the US FICA groups were represented, as well as folks from FICA-Japan (Raheim, Asuka, and friends), the Capoeira Angola Center in Italy and New York, Chorão came in from Boston, Jeremy from Colorado, Sylvia from the Universal Capoeira Angola school, and many more.

The amazing Mama Geni making magic in the kitchen. (photo by Russell H)

Just a note, the food at the conference was outstanding!! We enjoyed feijoada, bobo de camarão, lentils, smoothies, the above mentioned french toast, and lots of amazing veggies. (yeah, the food alone was worth coming). Many thanks to Mama Geni for her excellent cooking skills and kitchen management, and special thanks to Wajid, his daughter Laila, and Sarah, who brought fresh produce from their farm... tomatoes, greens, squash, beets, and more. It was amazing and it made us so happy.

Farming family + Russell H.

Many thanks to FICA-Chicago for organizing this year's conference. It was a >blast<. The group would also like to thank John and Laura Thorstad of Camp Lawrence, the IAC (Illinois Arts Council) and all the day care volunteers.

This conference must have set a record for capoeira babies present. Here is just one of the many with Jasper of FICA-Atl. (photo by Russell H)

Also, a special shout out to Ama of FICA-Baltimore along with her editing team, Drea, Isa, Gege, and Carlos Gomez for the production of another great issue of the Caxixi literary magazine.

**If you have something creative (or not, doesn't really matter) you would like to share, there will be another issue of Caxixi coming out in March 2009 in conjunction with the Women's conference. We'll have more information about it coming up, so check back, and please participate. The more, the merrier.**

Did I forget anything or anyone? Let me know if I did - I am still recovering from the weekend. I had a great time in Chicago. The only things I was missing were Phu and Lauren!!! We miss you. Be safe in your respective danger zones (Thailand & New Orleans).

Everyone in front of the weeping willow at Camp Lawrence, where being close to nature is being close to god. (photo by Russell H)

Here are some more pictures from T Gege.

See more photos on the Portuguese side of the blog.

**Check back later for more pictures.**

If you have pictures of the conference you would like to share, send us the link at: ficadcarchives (at) gmail (dot) com, or leave it in the comments.

The next FICA conference will be in Belo Horizonte in July or August of 2009. Hope to see you there!

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