I want to talk about Carnival because seems to me that some people have a wrong idea of what Carnival really means to Brazilians or in general. It’s not all about sexuality and pornography. When tourists from all over the world go for the Carnival, they are fascinated by the joy of the event. It is really contagious, if I can say that!
This event takes place annually in the month of February from Friday to Tuesday, right before Ash Wednesday and as soon as it ends, the leaders of the “Escolas de Samba” and the members of these schools start to work again for the following year’s party. They work on the new music, song, costumes and all the themes they will have in the school and show in the next event. The community is a big part of it too and they help to work on the costumes and the floats. They take it very serious and there are rehearsals during the year, specially, from September to January, where they practice in their headquarters (yes, it school has a headquarter where they gather during the year for barbecues, parties and meetings. Each school can have a rehearsal in the actual site (Sambodromo) where they will perform in the Carnival. It’s a big deal and believe me, some people spend money they don’t have to buy their costumes. Some costumes are very expensive and some people save money all year to buy them. It is a national passion, well at least for most of Brazilians.
Carnival in Brazil goes beyond providing entertainment. It reflects the culture of that country. The music, dance, song, costumes and people are what make this huge event to be news around the world.
The Carnival is a celebration in the entire country and it varies in style from state to state.
In Sao Paulo and Rio the celebration are alike, where the Escolas de Samba bring to the “Sambodromo” their show for the public to see it. Each Escola de Samba has its own “samba enredo”. Each Escola presents a different theme in the Sambodromo and is represented with the music, costumes, dance and “carros alegoricos”. It is a beautiful event and goes from 9 or 10 pm to 7 or 8 am, each day. The Parade in Sao Paulo takes place on Friday and Saturday for the biggest schools to compete and in Rio, Sunday and Monday are the days for the main schools to compete. Each School has 1 hour to complete the presentation in the Sambodromo. They can lose points if the timing is not right, like if they take less or more time to cross the Sambodromo. There are people that participate in schools in Sao Paulo and in Rio, so big is the love for this event. The results for both schools are revealed on Ash Wednesday and sometimes there are huge fights and the judges may need protection. The reason for that is that the schools are classified by groups and sometimes one school that won in first place in the previous year can fall into 10th place in that year and when they don’t agree with the grades the school gets, oh well, you can imagine what can happen.
Recife, Olinda, Porto Seguro and Salvador have small groups and uses “trio eletrico” or “carros alegoricos”, which consists in a truck that has high power sound system with a band, group and/or singer on top of it that performs their show on top of it while it is driven very slowly in main streets of certain towns with the public following it, dancing, singing all day and night. There is no competition like in Rio and Sao Paulo.
It can be very hot and many people even pass out due to drinking too much, not eating, or combination of both. It is very common for fire fighters to have a truck spraying water in the public during these parades.
In Olinda they have “bonecos gigantes” that leads the “blocos” on the streets.
If you’ve never been to a carnival in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, you will never really know why all of the buzz about it. Well, you may see it on TV but when you are there, participating, either watching it from the bleaches in the Sambodromo or right in the middle of the parade as a participant, you can feel your heart beating in the same rhythm of the “bateria”.
A lot of people don’t know it, but even foreigner can participate in the event in Sao Paulo and Rio. They can buy costumes from any School they like and participate in the event. Of course it would be ideal that they would be able to practice at least once before the carnival so they are not so lost on what to do when they are in the “avenida” or “passarela” (Sambodromo). Be careful though. Don't go buy from any website that say that the sell them. There are scams.
At the end of this post I will have some videos with the celebration in some states so you can see the differences.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy it.
Have a beautiful day!
Escola de Samba – Samba School
Samba Enredo - music created specially, for the school and the event
Sambodromo – place where the parade takes place – In Sao Paulo it is Anhembi, and in Rio is Marques de Sapucai
Giant Puppets (picture from a friend of mine and her family when they visited Olinda.
Bonecos Gigantes – Giant Puppets (they use a lot of politic figures to mock them or make them a tribute. The picture here was given to me to use here. Thanks Vi!
Trio Eletrico – Brig truck that has high power sound system with a band, group and/or singer on top of it that performs their show on top of it while it is driven very slowly in main streets of certain towns with the public following it, dancing, singing all day and night. There are some trios eletricos that stay in one place, like in front of a bar or restaurant, a place where people can gather and enjoy the group, band or singer they like most.
Carros Alegoricos – Floats
Blocos – Street bands and group followed by the public on the streets.
Bateria - percussion instruments of the school of samba.
Avenue or passarela – It is common for us Brazilians to refer to the Sambodromo as avenue or runway when we talk about it.
Below are the main samba schools for the Carnival of 2014. There are other schools, but as I said, sometimes they fall into another group and cannot make to the Sambodromo, so they still participate but as small groups in certain neighborhoods in the city of Sao Paulo and Rio. Each year it is harder for the judges to decide on the grades as the schools improve and make it harder for the judges to grade them.
Samba Schools Rio de Janeiro: Beija-Flor, Grande Rio, Imperatriz, Magueira, Mocidade, Portela, Inocentes de Belford Roxo, Salgueiro, Sao Clemente, Uniao da Ilha, Unidos da Tijuca, Vila Isabel, Tradicao, Unicao de Jacarepagua, Academicos da Rocinha, Renascer de Jacarepagua, Unidos do Porto da Pedra, Paraisos do Tuiuti, Imperio Serrano, Alegria da Zona Sul, Uniao do Parque Curicica, Caprichosos de Pilares, Unidos do Viradouro, Estacio de Sa, Academicos de Santa Cruz, Unidos de Padre Miguel, Academicos do Cubango.
Samba Schools Sao Paulo: Leadnro de Itaquera, Rosas de Ouro, X-9 Paulistana, Dragoes da Real, Academicos do Tucuruvi, Vai-Vai, Tom Maior, Perola Negra, Gavioes da Fiel, Mocidade Alegre, Nene da Vila Matilde, Aguia de Ouro, Imperio da Casa Verde, Academicos do Tatuape, Colorado do Bras, Morro da Casa Verde, Unidos do Peruche, Camisa Verde e Branco, Imperador do Ipiranga, Unidos de Vila Maria, Mancha Verde, Estrela do Terceiro Milenio, Unidos de Santa Barbara, Uirapuru da Mooca, Torcida Joven do Santos, Prova de Fogo, Tradicao Albertinense, Unidos de Sao Lucas, Uniao Imperial, Camisa 12, Dom Bosco, Independente Tricolor, Amizade da Zona Leste, Unidos de Sao Miguel.
Below are the videos I said I would have for you at the end so you can see the difference between the Carnival in Sao Paulo and Rio and Bahia, Pernambuco, Minas Gerais and other states.
Practice in a School http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydp1Ty3EYFM
Ensaio Tecnico (technical rehearsal) of Tucuruvi school at Sambodromo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDMvClG0i-Q
Ensaio Tecnico (technical rehearsal) of Tucuruvi school at at Sambodromo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUNbIvS5OQA
Sao Paulo parade - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sawIbWq4s6s
Sao Paulo – Aguia de Ouro School http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nptNxOa5gtI
Sao Paulo – Rosas de Ouro School http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz-SO8-sB1k
Rio parade (compact) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDphdusk_jg
Rio – Beija Flor School http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySrby52tBFc
Minas Gerais http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxEfJbZFT3c
Porto Alegre http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNmxDR1hHlw
Salvador, BA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jEPLDxONGk
Salvador – Chiclete com Banana http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u72UKQ2zvW0
Salvador – Ivete Sangalo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgsdPDDsv9g
Salvador – Ivete Sangalo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12J8libjDQo