As Rio de Janeiro gears up for Carnaval 2014, my roommate took me to go party with last year’s Carnaval champions, Unidos de Vila Isabel.
You’re probably wondering the same thing I was when I showed up at the party and noticed all the trophies… doesn’t everyone win at Carnaval (Carnival)?
Turns out, the famous Carnaval parade at the Sambodromo (awesome name) in Rio is made up of samba schools from all over the city who are judged during the celebration.
Here are the 10 things each samba school in the parade is judged on:
1. Mestre-sala e porta-bandeira / Master of ceremonies and flag bearer
2. Fantasias / Costumes
3. Conjunto / Set
4. Evolução / Evolution or flow of their group
5. Alegorias e Adereços / Floats and Props
6. Comissão de Frente / Commission Front (small group who greet & explain theme)
7. Harmonia / Harmony
8. Bateria / Percussion (band)
9. Enredo / Plot (theme)
10. Samba Enredo / Samba plot (musicality)
There are 13 samba school competing in the top group (grupo especial) and each school is comprised of the residents of the neighborhood that samba school is from.
Check out more information about Carnaval 2014 in Rio de Janeiro
We were able to go to Unidos de Vila Isabel samba school because Gabriel’s (my roommate) parents grew up in the neighborhood and were members of the school.
We pulled into Unidos de Vila Isabel at about 11:30PM and were just about the first ones there.
People finally started crowding the giant empty warehouse turned samba club around midnight and that included grandparents and children alike.
When the voluptuous samba ladies started dancing, I thought, this was no place for children, but parents weren’t startled a bit.
The night went on as samba dancers and percussionists floored me with their skills. Especially the women moving their feet so quick in those giant high heels – god bless you.
I looked on in amazement and knew that if I wanted to be a part of this great celebration I would need to take some samba lessons, ASAP.
The highlight of the evening for many partiers was an appearance by the famous Brazilian beauty, Sabrina Sato, who led the band during Carnaval last year as Queen of the Percussion (rainha de bateria).
It was an amazing night in Rio de Janeiro and it got me even more excited about Carnaval 2014.
CARNAVAL 2014 DATES: February 28th until March 4th
Monday, March 3rd is the big parade where Vila Isabel will defend their crown. I would love to be a part of it somehow.