From glorification to physical matter there’s a long way that, when traveled, brings us the satisfaction of a day well-spent, of a beat placed right where it should, of paper and pen in his hand for another musical remark. Rui Miguel Abreu’s entire life has been revolving around music, from critic to writing years on end, from the days on the Ginga Beat radio and Rimas e Batidas to the scattered moments as a DJ. Among so many layers, our Village emerges as assertive measurer of happiness, as stated by Rui himself: “I feel great there; the atmosphere is just mesmerizing”.
Let’s go back a few years to the jumping-off point of this admiration and get to Village Underground London, the older brother, if you will. This is where Rui and Mariana’s path crossed owing to a story about Portuguese people working in music in London. Back then, Mariana proudly wielded her outstanding alter ego, Madame Management, a career management and event planning project leaning towards the electronic and underground scene — a legacy she flawlessly fit into Village since day one up until today.
Rui remembers those days all too well, the return from London, Village opening its doors, the overnight transformation this venue asserted in Lisbon. And he goes on: “as I was saying before, it was immediately clear that Mariana had been able to successfully bring all the amazing vibes you felt at Village Underground London here. That rather particular energy spreads like wildfire here because there’s a lot of people crossing paths”, he says.
He started by recording Ginga Beat, a Red Bull Radio project, in MetalBox, the studio ran by Gustavo, the other half of Village, but other plans and professional goals kept coming up, even if at its own pace, and made this place a regular event on his calendar. Chatting with Rui was enough to grasp that Rui’s music-loving knowledge and the way he gave himself to it are not a joke or a measly sideline, but rather a synoptic table of what he did and does. Amid these achievements is Alcântara Toca Discos, an event that happened in 2016 at Village that was put together along with Alcântara’s Parish Council, curated by Rimas e Batidas, meaning it was thought out to allow people to enjoy music in a variety of ways for two days, like with “a small vinyl records market, a gig at the Santo Amaro’s Chapel performed by Surma, an evening dedicated to hip hop with Keso, Blasph and a few DJs from Monster Jinx, right there under the containers”. As Rui says, records and music, right under the containers, under the indelible light shone by Village’s most unwavering message, LISBON IS THE NEW LISBON, painted by Halfstudio on the container that still turns heads the most.
Let’s throw the role of noble teacher in, of Music History at ETIC, no less, which has already taken him to Village with his students so they could meet the place and MetalBox. This is, I gather, the proper way to show younger generations that the future belongs to those who dare and take a risk, with plenty of sweat and tears, but always with the heart facing the in the right direction — this is the only way a place like this can grow, progress, breathe, evolve. “If you’re someplace where you feel creativity hovering, you end up being contaminated by it. It’s easier to let your creative juices flow within a context in which you feel there are other creative minds at work”, he says. “That’s it, that’s why I keep coming over”.
People are the reason Village is still up and running, and people are also the culprits in Rui’s coming back over and over again, starting with Mariana and Gustavo, whom he admits being pretty close to, but also Branko, Glue or Batida. It’s a constant stimulus that you can feel soaring around.
As a person who loves to experience Lisbon, Rui doesn’t shy away from sharing its daily routes with me, which inevitably end up including Village, because it’s “an escape”, he says, that got away from the chaos to create its own universe in another kind of central neighborhood in town. “I’m teaching for most of the year at ETIC, in Santos, and I really relish this route that stretches along the river. When the days start getting warmer — and I do this a lot —, I get out, stop by the National Museum of Ancient Art and walk down to meet someone around here, like my partner at Rimas e Batidas at his studio nearby. I’m always around, for sure. I like to believe we map out our own circuits around the city, but we do exactly because there are places like Village, that is to say places that refuse to fit into the mold, that dare to be different and that end up positively swaying the city. If there’s talk about some kind of special vibe in Lisbon it’s because there are places like Village around”.