A Secret Brazilian Body Part — And More Wisdom from “Nosso Xote”

by  Mose Hayward
LAST UPDATED ON  2023-12-01
PUBLISHED ON  2017-12-08

Essa música conta o que acontece no baile, no forró. E é a versão feminina. Todas as vezes que a gente ouvia, na época, uma música cantada por um forrozeiro, era sempre um eu-lírico masculino. Então, nunca se tinha a impressão de como a mulher sente o baile. Essa música reflete um pouco como é que uma menina sente o baile. O moreno convidou, foi gentil com ela, dançaram a noite inteira, ela ficou apaixonada. Ai, que delícia.

Janayna Pereira (Globo)

This song talks about what happens in dancing, in forró. At that time you’d always hear songs sung from the point of view of a masculine lyricist. So one never got the perspective of what the woman is feeling in the dance. This song is about that. The guy invited her, was kind to her, they danced all night long, she ended up in love. How marvelous.

Janayna Pereira

As Janayna points out, in classic songs we rarely hear about forró from a women’s perspective. And that’s a shame, because women have quite passionate, romantic experiences of the dance to share.

Janayna Pereira

For that reason, for the sake of improving our Portuguese, and just for fun, it’s great to take apart the lyrics of forró songs such as the classic, sweet “Nosso Xote” (“Our Xote”) from São Paulo-based Bicho de Pé, as sung by their lead singer at the time, Janayna Pereira.

Key questions for improving our forró-themed Portuguese:

  • How many delightful ways can we talk about quivering, trembling, shimmying and swaying in Portuguese?
  • What is the essential Brazilian body part that mainly exists to be sniffed and kissed, and that we have no word for in English?

The answers to these questions and more can be gleaned from the lyrics to this song.

Understanding this song is also particularly interesting for forrozeiros as it contains essential vocabulary about movements, body parts, falling in love on the dance floor, and other required forró terms.

The video is below, followed by my translation. See especially the footnotes at the bottom for in-depth explanations of the words and their various possible meanings.


Me convidou para dançar um xote,

Beijou meu cabelo

Cheirou meu cangote

Fez meu corpo inteiro se arrepiar

Fiquei sem jeito

E ele me acolheu junto ao peito

E foi nos braços deste moreno,

Que eu forrozei

Até o dia clarear

Me encantei por seu olhar

Moreno chega mais pra cá

Meu dengo vem me xamegar

Seu jeito de balançar o corpo inteiro

Faz meu coração bater ligeiro

Assim eu vou me apaixonar.

The dark man1

Invited me to dance a xote.2

He kissed my hair,

Sniffed my neck3

Made my whole body quiver

I was left dazed4

He held me close to his chest

And it was in the arms of this dark man

That I danced forró

Until daybreak

I was delighted by his gaze

Dark man, come closer

My darling, come snuggle5 up with me,

His manner of swaying his whole body

Makes my heart quickly6 pitter-patter

This is how I will fall in love.

  1. Moreno could mean dark hair or dark skin, or even be used affectionately for a man who is not actually that dark at all ↩︎
  2. Xote is a slow style of forró, like this song. It is meant to be danced in a close embrace, without lots of turns. ↩︎
  3. Cangote is a body part that we tragically lack in English; it is the side of the neck just below the ear, sometimes stretching to the collarbone. It should be smelled and kissed. It is rarely used for any other function. Women in particular are suspected of baring their cangotes and running their hands over their cangotes while dancing in order to leave their dance partners flustered. ↩︎
  4. Ficar sem jeito means to be left dazed, confused, nonplussed, with one’s mind blown out by hormones or the craziness of it all. ↩︎
  5. Xamegar or chamegar is used in just about any forró song; it can indicate cuddling, snuggling, the close forró embrace, or just the idea of intimacy. ↩︎
  6. Ligeiro means lightly (not heavily), but in the Northeast has come to also take on a second meaning as an adverb meaning quickly ↩︎

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