Deolinda: voice of the lost generation

A popular music band created the song “How Silly I am”, an anthem of frustration for the jobless and by far the most educated generation ever in Portugal. The result was a demonstration of 300,000

Culture — 07 May 2011 by Pedro Carreira Garcia
Deolinda: voice of the lost generation

If told this way, no one would really believe the story. A popular music band called Deolinda sings a previously unrecorded song at a concert and few weeks later it mobilises an entire generation into organising the largest demonstration to have taken place in Portugal in the last thirty years: more than 300,000 people peacefully gathered in the streets. This sounds somewhat outdated, like an old story imbued with revolutionary romanticism, difficult to happen under the cynicism of the 2000s. But as it happens, it really did take place.

Pedro, Marta, Carolina, Daniel. They all made their way to Avenida da Liberdade, one of Lisbon’s most central and emblematic avenues, to demonstrate against the precarious conditions of what was called by many “the lost generation” – the most educated, yet most unemployed generation ever.

Deolinda is a new band which has somewhat reinvented the heritage of Portuguese popular music – a mix between traditional fado (‘fate’) and gleeful folklore – into an anthem for those who do not identify themselves with their parents’ underlying pessimism.

This story is almost an idealistic one: in one of Deolinda‘s many concerts when touring around Portugal, Ana Bacalhau, the female lead singer, introduced their new song “Parva Que Sou” (How Silly I Am), about the drama of a frustrated, over-qualified generation and their traumatic experiences in a labour market unprepared to receive them. Seemingly, all those who have suffered through the agonies of non-paid internships and years of €500-a-month wages, suddenly developed class conscience, giving rise to a new movement in Portuguese society which was to be organised and promoted by four precarious workers.

João Labrincha, one of the organisers of the movement Geração à Rasca” (afflicted generation), wanted to “provide the younger generation an active voice in society”, he stated to the Portuguese newspaper Público. Not surprisingly, he chose one of the most powerful tools presently available to motivate people and bring them together: social networks, i.e., Facebook. This newly-founded movement received surprising feedback from all sectors of society, managing to bring together hundreds of thousands of people in a spontaneous demonstration, with no links to any of the existing political parties.

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Pedro Carreira Garcia

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