I live near a semi-main street in my neighborhood which is also near the foot of a favela. The corner where these two facts meet up is the most active street corner I’ve ever seen. Going out at any time of day, there are at least 40 people on the corner and an estimated 150 in the near vicinity. The only time this isn’t so is after midnight when the local dealers come out to sell their wares (“blow”) to their prefered customers (taxi drivers and “playboys”). What’s crazy to me is I’ve left the house at 6AM on a weekday and 7AM on a Sunday and there are still 40-or-so people chatting up a storm. Not to make a socio-economic judgement, but the corner is effectively their Facebook. The drunks, the dealers, the vendors and the passersby spend hours there “shooting the breeze”.
There’s the corner bar, the next-to-the-corner corner bar, the bakery/overpriced market, the supermarket, the pharmacy, the pet shop, the barber, the salon, the movie rental place, the other salon, and a few other things. When considering what businesses surround the oh-so-famous corner, it’s little surprise that people would pass by there (…I just never thought so many would stay and hang out!).
I’ve lived in and/or near poor areas in the States and while such corners do attract locals, the most I’ve ever seen together might be 5 people at one time. Considering the fact that 95% of the people on this particular corner here in Brazil aren’t drinking alcohol, I can’t really compare it to a US bar scene…so I’ll return to the Facebook analogy. The only place I see people wasting so much time twiddling their thumbs in the US is on Facebook. One difference being there’s no vanity on the corner while FB is full of people trying to compete to be the most interesting. While we navel-gaze, the corner-dwellers are actually socializing. Frankly, I don’t understand either but perhaps that’s just because I’m not normal.
As you can see, both places have their market cornered. And yes, I realize my comparison could be considered apples and oranges but it’s what I came up with on the spot.