I remember one of my very first experiences when I came to New York few years ago. I don’t know the year, but it was February. How did I know? It was Carnival in Brazil, my homeland and people were surprised why I was here in New York City, during this amazing Brazilian festival. My worse experience, when I felt tremendous shy was when a cashier at Victoria’s Secret asked where I came from. When I said Brazil, she pretend to copy a kind of samba, a Brazilian rhythm very popular during carnival days.
Let’s break some myths about this colorful holiday that stop Brazil. First at all, a big number of Brazilians don’t like the traditional Carnival’s party. They like the 4 days that is national holiday to travel and because it is in the middle of summer, the most popular destination are the beaches. Second, even though you see naked girls on the sambobrame (the court where the Carnival’s runway takes place), topless, for instance is forbidden in public areas in Brazil. You can be in trouble for exposing your bust there. Unlike New York, where the Desnudas use Times Square to get some money.
Brazilians don’t like the carnival exactly because it is famous for. Women sexual exploration, alcohol (and maybe drugs) abuse and sex freedom. A lot of tourists go to Brazil just to have sex with girls under 18 years old, for example. Foreigners go to a very poor towns where this bad situation is without control and id doesn’t make us happy. Being knowing about those situations don’t let us proud.
How does the Carnival really is in Brazil?
We have several cities where the carnival is very traditional and the parties are different among them. Let’s talk about the cities and the kind of fest you can expect there.
Samba School Parede – Rio & São Paulo
A samba school (Portuguese: Escola de samba) is a club or dancing school. They practice and often perform in huge square-compounds (“quadras de samba”) devoted to practicing and exhibiting samba, an African-Brazilian dance. There is a competition on the sambodrame, where the specialists choose which school is the best that year. There is a huge rivalry between the schools and in the day that they present the scores, there is s huge confusion. Another bad side of many samba schools are the connection with money wash and narcotraffic.
Another tradition for this schools are to choose the Drum’s Queens, which is the most important role in the runway day. This girl will dande in front of the drum. A beautiful girl, with fit body and probably famous would take this position. Every year is a big fight, the schools want the most famous girls to be their queens, and the girls want to be chosen because it gives them prestigious. There is no ethical, girls take place of friends and schools fire the queen on the eve of the runway without explanation.
The runways occur on Friday and Saturday in the Carnival’s nights in São Paulo at Anhembi’s Sambodrame. Sambadrome (Sambódromo in Portuguese) is the name given to an exhibition place for the Samba schools parades during Carnaval in Brazil. A sambadrome generally consists of tiered spectator viewing areas surrounding a long alley for the schools to parade down. In addition, on Sunday and Monday it takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí. This is the most famous carnival’s runway in Brazil.
We have sambodromes in another cities such as Manaus, Porto Alegre, Vitória, Florianópolis, Macapá, Belém, Bauru, Cabo Frio, Laguna, Paulinia, Santos and Bebedouro, but they are smaller and much less famous.
Annually, members of a samba school get together in the square-compounds and decide the theme, so the sambista start to plan the song, the rhythm and the lyric. The members of the community vote for the best melody in case of they have more than one possibility and then they start the assays. A lot of designers work to develop the costumes. Carnival in Brazil is like a Halloween parade, but much funnier and with more elaborate costumes. I have the feeling that Victoria’s Secret show is based on in Brazilian Carnival.
Of course the high amount of costumes in a run way are not those super expensive. However, it is not even close to the price of a Batman’s costume at Burlington. In Rio de Janeiro, the normal costume is from $260 to $800.
If you want to see this parade, be read to spend between $130 and $1,600.
Carnival Blocks – Bloquinhos de Carnaval
Carnival blocks are small and organized parties on the street where they have music (often fallowed by percussion instruments) and they walk in some streets in the city. Last year, São Paulo had at least 500 blocks divided in all the neighborhoods. Those are the most popular party in the country and you can easily find this block in big cities or small towns. Some blocks the participants wear costumes, some blocks are thematic like, men dressed like women, homemade costume…
Among the small towns, Ouro Preto has one of the busiest carnival in the country. This city has a lot of students and the city gets completely crazy during the carnival. This city also has the oldest Carnival Block, O Zé Pereida dos Lacaios, that started in 1867!
Olinda Dolls – Boneco de Olinda
In Olinda, Pernambuco the carnival parade or blocks is called the lyric block, because it is full of folklore from the region. Between the parade participants, we can see giant dolls, and this party started in 1932.They play frevo and old carnival marchinhas.
Eletric Trio – Trio Elétrico em Salvador
Revelers with their abadás
I would say Salvador has its carnival all year around. They have pre and post parties, carnival on Christmas… A truck, called electric trio, carry a band or famous singer and you have to buy the abadá, or the ticket-t-shirt to participate on that. The prices vary a lot, from $50 to $1,000.
The participants follow the truck dancing, drinking and kissing. I haven’t been there but a friend said they have to kiss everyone, the smell is terrible bad because there aren’t enough bathrooms and sometimes you can be even robbed.
However, most people want to avoid this parties, and just enjoy the long holiday. it says that the year in Brazil just starts after the carnival.