Suketu Mehta is Associate Professor at the Arthur Carter Journalism Institute at NYU and the author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. (August 2013)

In the Violent Favelas of Brazil

Favela da Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, December 2011

One night in Rio, a street photographer took me to a baile funk, a street party organized by the drug dealers. It was an extraordinary scene: at midnight, the traficantes had cordoned off many blocks, turning the favela into a giant open-air nightclub. One end of the street was a giant wall of loudspeakers, booming songs and stories about cop-killing and underage sex. Teenagers walked around carrying AK-47s; prepubescent girls inhaled drugs and danced. On some corners, cocaine was being sold out of large plastic bags. Everybody danced: grandmothers danced, children danced, I danced. It went on until eight in the morning.