Card Game at Z-13 Fishermen's Colony (*)
According to Seu Nonô, one of the oldest and most respected fisherman in the colony, the card game table was
introduced by him, Renato Cacá, Caetano and Farofa, at Posto 6, in Copacabana, about 30 years ago.
In the beginning they used to play on the beach and when it rained they'd play under the old TV Rio canopy,
where a 5 star hotel stands today.
Card game is part of the fishermen's colony daily life. Even for those who don't take part in the game it's one
of the place's social gatherings. The space around the table is one of the many gathering places in the colony.
Even those who don't play cards stop by to watch the game or to talk to some of the players and to those who
are helping around the table. Many issues related to the colony or to fishing are discussed around the card game
table, as many fishermen take part in the game by playing, just helping the game, or both.
Because the table was made with Nonô's help, one of the oldest and most respected fishermen, the group
stands out in the place, what doesn't mean they have any sort of special privilege, apparently.
The group that plays card at Z-13 fishermen's colony, at Posto 6, seems very closely knit. Everyone seems to
know each other for ages. Many of them seem to be old friends and some, by the stories told, used to fish
together. As most of them live in Copacabana or at Posto 6, either at the slums or in wealthier areas, many of
the friendships got started because they live in the same neighborhood and go to the same places.
The fishermen start the game usually after coming back from the sea, settling the boats and finishing all
work-related duties. That is usually between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., which is around the time when the table is
set and the game begins. Maybe, who knows, the time the game starts is related with the colony schedules.
The other players, mostly retired senior citizens, arrive at the colony close to the time when the game begins,
but sometimes they show up earlier to chat a little.
There's big interaction around the game, between the players and also the people that stand around the table
to watch it. They all treat each other as old friends or acquaintances, and the discussions never get bitter or
unfriendly. Just like in any other game, quarrels occur and the jokes and wits are usually taken in with good
humor and joy. Family members like grandchildren, children and spouses show up sometimes. They are
welcomed as if they were a part of the group and seem to be familiar with everyone. Despite coming from
distinct social classes, everyone gets along equally. Businessman or fisherman, living at Pavão slum or in an
apartment in Copacabana: it doesn't matter. There, at the card game table and around it there's no prejudice
of any king among the people, although differences are not ignored.
All the players seem to empathize with the fishermen's colony area, because those who don't live on fishing
often go there for quite a while, enjoy fishing and understand about it, and even talk on equal terms with the
fishermen on issues related to fishing and the ocean. Those who are not fishermen, neither professionals nor
amateurs, think of themselves as honorary fishermen due to how long they go to Posto 6 and the Z-13
Some of the people that stay around the table watching the card games never play or at least were never seen
playing, but amongst them, many are always there and are already a member of the group feeling totally part of
the game environment. Those who show up once in a while or eventually are apparently never unwelcomed by
the usual players. Even some street vendors take a break from their work and stand by watching the game and
making comments about it.
The card game plays its role in developing the social interaction between people from different social classes and
is also a form of leisure for the elderly. It is a factor of integration and socialization. The players, and also those
who are just helping, behave and feel as if they are part of a big family.
The game has some rituals such as the table setting, always exactly at the same place and arranged the same
way. This "management" however can be done by any player. Despite being always the same everyday, this
place is considered everyone's and anybody is welcome into the circle formed around the table to watch the
games. But in order to play it one must go through some "fomalities" such as: be known or introduced by
someone in the group and know how to play cards fairly well.
The only rule, other than the card game rules, is that the losing pair has to give away their place to a new one.
But that is not a strict rule because sometimes it is not followed.
The geographic location of Z-13 Fishermen's Colony at Copacabana creates an environment isolated from the
city chaos. This way the area around the colony has a small beach-village atmosphere where there's peace,
the time passes by slowly and everyone knows each other. The place, full of trees, has a big shaded space
formed by the sea almond trees which, along with the ocean proximity, provide a pleasant temperature even on
the hottest summer days in Rio. All that facilitates social gatherings, attracts people and makes them feel good
there, even those working in the duties related to fishing. Because of all that, the place is also chosen for
resting, killing time, and leisure activities. Everyone seems to enjoy being there and the people who go there on
a regular basis identify with the place, not only for the connection they might have with the ocean and with
fishing, but also because there everyone knows them, or almost everyone, they meet friends and gather with
groups to which they are connected and where they feel loved.
(*) The images shown are part of a set of pictures taken during the field work for the article
"Forms of sociability: the card game at Z-13 Fishermen's Colony in Copacabana" a final
paper for the postgraduate Lato Sensu degree in "Photography as research tool in Social Sciences",
done in 2003 at Cândido Mendes University, at Rio de Janeiro. During field work and interviews
made at Z-13 Colony, 154 pictures were taken and 24 were included in the paper.