A friend of mine asked me to describe the difference between the capoeira scene in the East Coast (tri-state) and the West Coast (bay area). Having finished a full year living in California and moving back to New Jersey, I have some ideas.
- Established schools: The west coast has a larger amount of Mestres who are older, have established schools, and have been teaching for a longer amount of time. The capoeira scene definitely benefits from having these long standing pillars of the community present.
- Distance: The bay area from one end to another is about 2 hours worth of driving and a little over 50 miles driving. Besides that, Los Angeles is another Capoeira hub, which does suffer from LA traffic, but it’s a single metro area, as opposed to the east coast, which is a long stretch of metro areas. Philly and New York, both of which can be logistically difficult to reach (New York and Philly are also around 100 miles away from each other and these are two of the closest neighbors).
- Levels: Many schools that I visited on the west coast seemed to have more advanced students who not only decided to stick to capoeira, but also decided to continue to come to class, even as an advanced student. I can’t say that I’ve been to a class with a contra-mestre in it on the east coast… Maybe there are some schools in New York that I’m unaware of, but this is definitely less common, and not seeing advanced students I think makes it difficult for newer students to see and aspire to the next level.
- I thought I would write a few lines about LA because i got a chance to visit for Mestre Amen’s batizado. The amount of time I was there was very short. However, on this topic I’ll just say that there are a lot of creative people in this region and a lot of themes see capoeira as a strong supplement to their work. This is awesome to see as it theoretically gives people more time and reason to train.
In summary what’s the difference between the east coast capoeira scene and the west coast capoeira scene? The west coast is older, more concentrated, and benefitting from decades of investing in students. The east coast on the other hand is just now getting its bearings and will no doubt grow, but this will take years maybe even decades at the pace we’re going.