It’s the run up to Carnaval – the best time of year. People are crazy for Carnaval. There are parades, block parties, rehearsals and all types of late night revelry. It’s great. And in true Brazilian fashion, where there are people there are street vendors with cold beer, hot dogs and grilled meat on a stick.
Last night we went to a smaller more obscure School of Samba: Estacio, in Rio. It has a reputation for being a largely gay School (perhaps why it has dwindling neighborhood participation.) It was GREAT. Only R$5 to get in (the more famous Schools charge R$20-R$40 to get into the rehearsal hall.) The first thing I noticed was how well decorated the hall was – clever use of fabric and color. Gay people – we have that knack. =;-)
Unfortunately we did not take our camera – it’s a pain in the butt to hang onto all night long. What a missed opportunity. Beautiful hall, super cute men and women, some extravagant costumes, and just plain pure Rio Carnaval.
It was Friday night so the name of the game was party, not rehearsal. Generally the Schools have two events a week in the run up to Carnaval. Earlier in the week, like a Tuesday or Wednesday, they have their rehearsal night when the community shows up to work on their parade choreography and practice singing the samba. Then on a weekend night they host a party to build enthusiasm for their school and make some money from entrance fees and food and drink sales to help pay for the floats, costumes, salaries, etc.
Last night there were about 40 members of the bateria (percussion band) on the stage banging out the samba, with a few singers and a dozen or so nearly naked beautiful brown and black women shaking their booties like nowhere else on the planet.
The music was deafening and the beat penetrating. It was inescapable and hypnotic. Who knows where the energy comes from but we were swept up into the magic and before we knew it it was 5:00 a.m. and time to step outside to have a hot dog and a few more beers before chasing the sunrise on our way home.
This is a weekly thing until Carnaval. Plus on Sunday our local School: Viradouro practices on the main street through downtown in the evening. That one is free.