It’s OK, I’m Portuguese

April 26, 2018 by Michael Cordeiro

Recently a post on a DJ page caught my attention. A younger DJ was looking for music ideas for a Portuguese wedding he had coming up. The bride and groom were of Portuguese heritage, but not really familiar with the traditional types of music. So the DJ figured he would reach out for some input. What he got was a ton of misinformation.

Many of the replies suggested playing Latin or Brazilian music. Others suggested Reggaeton or Caribbean music. All wrong. It was obvious that none of the people posting suggestions knew anything about the Portuguese culture. This is where we fail. If you are going to do ethnic or culturally diverse weddings, you have to learn their traditions.

This can be very daunting, but hugely rewarding when you wow the guests and newlyweds with your knowledge of their culture and create some truly magic moments. I had a groom last year that was from the country of Georgia (not the state). Do you even know where that is? Go ahead, say it: Alexa, where is the country of Georgia?

I spent two hours talking with the groom and doing some research online about their history and traditions. In the end we came up with some traditional music for dinner and three key Georgian phrases that I taught to the guests. It was huge!

Getting back to the Portuguese problem, let me explain why it can be complicated. Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language on the planet. The Portuguese explorers conquered almost as much territory as the English and Spanish. Even the island of Taiwan was under Portuguese control and used to be called Formosa. Today, Portuguese people come from Portugal, the Azores, Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands. Brazil was conquered by the Portuguese, but Brazilians are Brazilian not Portuguese. Ask one and they’ll tell you, loud and clear.

Each one of those areas has their own unique traditions, language variation and music. My grandfather was born in the Azores and came over when he was six. I grew up in one of the largest Portuguese communities in America. The Portuguese I grew up with is a mix of all the island and mainland traditions.

Portuguese music itself comes in many forms. Portuguese folk music is called “Fados” and is very sad. A “Shamarita” is type of Portuguese square dance music. Today the music of mainland Portugal is highly influenced by the clubs of Ibiza. American Portuguese music (yes, there is such a thing) is influenced by top 40 and EDM. And just to be clear: Danza Kodura is NOT a Portuguese song.

If you are going to specialize in ethnic weddings you have to immerse yourself in their culture. It’s definitely not “all the same.” Ask the right questions. An Asian wedding could be Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian or Thai. Know the difference. Learn how to honor and respect the elders of your couples. Remember that what we do is a lot more than just playing music.

Want to learn more about Portuguese music? Shoot me an email:

Filed Under: DJing Weddings, Event DJ Tips, Mobile DJ Career Development, Mobile DJ Performance Tips, Playlists, Songs & Music Charts