The morning before my husband and I left for the gym to sign me up I read this article in the NY times. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/27/arts/brazils-leading-arts-financing-group-shares-the-wealth.html?_r=2&ref=americas
My husband had been telling me that he had joined the gym with the union for free and that I could also join for free. As we lay in bed reading the paper I showed him this article about SESC Serviço Social do Comércio (Social Service of Commerce). “That’s where we are going today.” He said. “But it’s not really cultural.”
As we entered the building I totally disagreed with my husband, this place was nothing but cultural. As you enter the main lobby of the modern building you can’t help but notice the furniture that lends interesting architectural additions to the space. For example a long curving wooden bench that resembles a vertebral column winding its way across the floor. When we arrived, there was a line of people waiting for lunch. Two musicians came in and set up in the middle of the lobby and played Jazzy little numbers with their guitar and accordion as the people waited.
In the back section of the lobby there was a placed to sit and read with various books, magazines, and news papers available (All in Portuguese). The sitting area had geometric tables with modern chairs and benches to sit. And against the back wall there is a row of comfy chairs with CD players and head phones to enjoy.
Before lunch I had to sign up and get my ID card first so we went to the third floor to the administration offices. We stood in line next to a red wall with several portraits and a description of the artist that painted them. On the same level of the administrative offices was a gallery of photographs displayed like a museum and again modern artistic furniture that could have been in a museum by itself.
Before heading for lunch we decided to tour the rest of the building. The second floor is where the dining room is and just below it you can see the pool. The fourth floor is the actual gym itself with treadmills, bikes, and weights which was no different from any other gym except that fact this place is so busy that you have to sign up for specific days and times that you can use the equipment, and there is a waiting list. The fifth floor is a soccer court. The sixth floor is the dental office, just in case you need a cleaning inbetween working out and dining. And finally the seventh floor is (no surprise here), a soccer court. Also in the basement they have a theatre to perform plays but this was not included in my tour.
As we headed to lunch I confronted my husband on his observations, “Why don’t you think this place is cultural? It seems very cultural to me.” He really didn’t have an explanation but in the end like the smart man he is he agreed with his wife.