Pagode Russo

Lyrics from “Pagode Russo” by Luiz Gonzaga and João Silva (1984)

Yesterday I dreamed I was in Moscow
Dancing Russian pagode in the Cossacked Club (2x)

It seemed almost like a frevo in that drop-but-don’t-fall
It seemed almost like a frevo in that go-but-don’t-go (2x)
Come here Cossack, Cossack, dance now
In the Cossack dance, no Cossack’s left out

— Interpretation —

Luiz Gonzaga (center) recording in a traditional forró ensemble - zabumba (L), sanfona (accordion), and triangle.
Luiz Gonzaga (center) recording in a traditional forró ensemble – zabumba (L), sanfona (accordion), and triangle.

Today  (December 13) was Luiz Gonzaga’s birthday. As this post explains, Gonzaga — born December 13, 1912 —  was responsible for popularizing forró nationwide at a time when northeasterners and their traditions suffered severe discrimination in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. His birthday is now National Forró Day in Brazil.

Luiz Gonzaga was known as "Rei do Baião." He practically invented the genre, a sub-genre of forró.
Luiz Gonzaga was known as “Rei do Baião.” He practically invented the genre, a sub-genre of forró.

“Pagode russo” was recorded on the 1984 LP Danado de Bom; a number of artists have since recorded the song, including Zeca Baleiro, in 1999. The song is a traditional quadrilha, a square-dance style popular in the northeast, especially during June’s São João (St. John) festivities. Frevo is a dance style that emerged in Recife, Pernambuco, in the late 19th century, a mix of marchamaxixe and Capoeira, and involves lots of jittery up-and-down, back-and-forth movements. Luiz Gonzaga was from Pernambuco, and in this song, he brings up the similarities between these northeastern genres.

To rhyme with “Moscou” Gonzaga says he was at the club “Cossacou” – which in Portuguese sounds like a verb meaning something like “things got Cossack!”

While the term pagode most often refers to a samba sub-genre these days, over the course of the 20th century – and still today, to a certain extent – it has also been used to refer generically to a party or dance.

Lyrics in Portugese

Ontem eu sonhei que estava em Moscou
Dançando pagode russo na boate Cossacou
Ontem eu sonhei que estava em Moscou
Dançando pagode russo na boate Cossacou

Parecia até um frevo naquele cai e não cai
Parecia até um frevo naquele vai e não vai
Parecia até um frevo naquele cai e não cai
Parecia até um frevo naquele vai e não vai

Vem cá cossaco, cossaco dança agora
Na dança do cossaco, não fica cossaco fora
Vem cá cossaco, cossaco dança agora
Na dança do cossaco, não fica cossaco fora

3 thoughts on “Pagode Russo”

  1. This is a happy tune! I think uma dose de pinga this evening, in honor of Luiz Gonzaga’s birthday, would be appropriate,

  2. Excellent song! I love this website (discovered it today). I’m making a CD of Brazilian music as a christmas gift for my friend who wants to learn portuguese. Is it okay if I print out your lyrical translation and explanation for him to read over? Thanks so muchh!!!

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