Capoeira is definitely something you've seen before, whether at a public park or a proper performance. Whether or not you knew what it was, you definitely were corralled by all those sinuous bodies and funky-fresh urban moves. (A useless bit of trivia: in training for Catwoman, Halle Berry became the unofficial It Girl of capoeira. Hey, at least she got something out of the movie.)
Capoeira is a sport that has a long and storied history. It was developed by slaves over 400 years ago, and combines martial art with performance with dance. The way it works: two players face each other, encircled by a group of people and musicians, all of who are singing call-and-response songs to goad the players on. It's more fun posturing than martial arts; without touching each other, the two dancers kick, cartwheel, crouch, soar, and do pretty much anything to try to make the other person stumble. It's all about sticking to the rhythm, not winning or losing.
If you think it's only for the most lithe and graceful, think again. Capoeira is making waves among we of the unwashed masses' simply do an Internet search and you'll come across tons of places to learn the art of capoeira, like San Francisco-based Abada Capoeira, www.abada.org.