São Paulo is the largest city in the western hemisphere, a vast and sprawling concrete jungle whose metropolitan area is home to some 21 million souls and more high-rises than anywhere else on earth. Yet as you walk the crowded streets it’s easy to spot buildings that have been left empty or abandoned, often half-hidden behind sheets that flap in the breeze, the architectural equivalent of Miss Havisham’s wedding dress. The best estimate is that there are more than 200,000 vacant buildings in the city.
For the DJ and cultural activist Paulo Tessuto, these spaces represent opportunities to party. Formerly a member of the diverse VoodooHop art collective which formed in 2009 to transform abandoned spaces for music and art projects, Tessuto went on to start his own spin-off DIY night, Carlos Capslock, dedicated purely to electronic music. “We started as a monthly night at Trackers, the first squat location we had in São Paulo,” remembers Tessuto. “After we had our third birthday party there, I started to search for new locations. We would just walk the streets, looking out for abandoned buildings that could become venues for parties.”