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São Paulo’s High-Voltage Social Scene

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Photo: Andrea Fazzari

Despite the vastness of São Paulo, its creative community has the feel of a village. One exemplary convergence of art, nightlife, and fashion is the House of Erika Palomino in Vila Madalena, the city’s answer to the East Village circa 1987. Formerly fashion critic for the major newspaper Folha de São Paulo, Palomino is now a magazine publisher, Web entrepreneur, trend forecaster, and gallerist, running an all-purpose loft-office space that hosts parties, art shows, and concerts. Her fashion and culture glossy, Key, launched a year ago; its fashion director, Emanuela Carvalho, is also the head of image and marketing for Trama records, a music label started by the son of bossa nova star Elis Regina. The rest of Palomino’s staff are graphic designers, artists, skateboarders, writers, and anyone sooty-eyed and bushy-haired with enough desire to stick around, lend a hand, and learn a thing or two. Clever and animated, Palomino "got bored with the politics of big companies and wanted to do my own stuff," as she tells me on yet another sunny day while we sit out on her patio and an old Smashing Pumpkins track plays in the background. "I prefer to connect people, at a place that they can reach by walking." By freeing guests from the dreaded taxi—an expense most indie paulistanos can’t easily justify—Palomino’s place has attracted a more democratic mix of passers-by than some of São Paulo’s other "it" spots ever see. "This place has a wonderful, vital energy," she says with a contented smile, referring to her gallery, her neighborhood, and her hometown. On this lazy afternoon, with a gentle breeze blowing and my belly full of churrasco, I couldn’t agree with her more.

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