Sérgio Gonçalves started throwing big birthday bashes when he became a popular personality in Chicago’s Brazilian community after opening the art gallery Barracão in the late 80s. At some point the parties got too big and his wife couldn’t take it anymore, so he had to take them out of the house and into friendly bars.
“About three or four years ago I started celebrating my birthday along with John Beard,” Gonçalves says. Beard, who plays in the local band Bêabá do Samba, is another well-known fella in the community and has the distinction of being probably the only Briton to have mastered the art of playing the cavaquinho. “My birthday is on Jan. 29 and his is Jan. 30, so it made sense to do it together.”
A Brazilian set builder and a Brit who plays in a Brazilian band — with a duo like this, you just know the parties have to attract an interesting crowd. This year’s shinding was held at Jaks Tap in Greektown last Saturday; entertainment included the all-female drum combo She Boom, more drumming by the Unidos do Quilombo samba school, and Tiny Miles & the Big Kids, a blues combo that includes some guys who “practically grew up at my house,” Gonçalves says. “They were friends with my son.”
The party rolled on from 7:30 p.m. til 3 a.m., the drinks flowed freely, and only one guy keeled over. Here are some photos, all by Gonçalves himself, except for the ones he’s in — but we’ll give him credit anyway ’cause there’s no way we’ll ever know who has holding the camera.