Sunday, January 30, 2011

School of Samba technical rehearsal

Grrl's got some gams!

In the weeks running up to the big Carnaval parade/competition in Rio each School gets two opportunities to take a practice run down the parade route in the Sambódromo.  This is an important opportunity to get a feel for how each section of the parade will fit in the space and to get the pacing down so that the School can get in, fill the route, then exit all within the precise time allowed.

It’s also a great opportunity for folks like us to go the Sambódromo to soak up a little pre-Carnaval fun.

Last night Portela and Porto da Pedra had practice runs.  This is serious business.  Whole communities have invested a lot of time and A LOT of money to produce a winning parade (the storyline, the samba, the floats, the costumes).  If you are among those participating, you do not want to miss these practice runs.  And if you do skip one, your group leader will call you out for it.

The street was alive with food and beverage vendors and the ambient sound was pounding with the sambas of each School.  Everyone was proudly wearing their School T-shirt, while the senior members, or other dignitaries of the School, were wearing their more classy printed Polos or button up shirts.

I’m always touched to see men and women in their 70s walking around like peacocks in their official garb.  They have likely been participating with the School for a generation or more.

Tens of thousands of family, friends and fans filled the bleachers while the thousands of paraders practiced their routine.  It’s not just fun and games, however.  The overall School may have one to two dozen Alas (sections of 150 – 300 people), each with their own costume and choreography.  Coaches for each Ala are quick to correct you when you step out of place, rush you when you fail to keep pace, remind you to sing every word, and stoke you into expressing more alegria.  All of these aspects will be carefully judged and scored when the big day comes.

The Schools compete to win, not just to have fun.

But we were there to have fun.  Luiz and I, with our friends, enjoyed the street scene, drank beer, ate grilled meat from a stick, found the gay gathering point, and took in the eye candy.

By about 2:30 a.m. we headed home (Luiz had to work the next morning at 8:00).

Gostei.  Qualidade de vida.

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