Take your favorite spring break memories, add Halloween costumes, beautiful half-naked people, live music and an entire city that fuels the party and you’ll begin to understand carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
I spent the last week masquerading from one bloco to the next as Rio de Janeiro opened their doors to insanity.
Until I finish censoring the behind the scenes video footage from all the men in tights and endless nights, here’s a peek into my Rio de Janeiro carnival experience…
Rio de Janeiro Carnival officially started on Thursday, February 28th with blocos (street parties) all over the city. The metro even has a posters up that show what bloco to go to at which stop.
People dress in crazy costumes and march with large percussion bands down the street while drinking and dancing for hours at a time. Once one bloco finishes everyone walks or takes the bus/metro to the next festa, making public transportation during carnival like a moving party as well.
Along with the citywide street parties every day, the major event of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is the world famous parade of samba schools at the Samb0dromo (Sambodrome) stadium.
During the first two nights of carnival, smaller samba schools called “Grupo de Acesso” (access group) parade in Sambodromo and then the following two nights are reserved for the top schools known as “Grupo Especial.”
I bought a ticket for night one to watch samba school powerhouses Manguiera, Salgueiro and Beija-Flor.
I think the Brazilian woman sitting next to me said it best… it was pure emotion.
On day two of “grupo especial” I had the opportunity to join in on the fun and actually parade with the Mocidade samba school. I turned over every rock and bugged every single samba school until someone let me in and it was all worth it.
As you will see in the video coming later this week, it was an intense atmosphere behind the scenes as each samba school has so much riding on the performance.
Somehow I got positioned in the front row of my group and had to sing and dance in rhythm without learning the dance moves or song until an hour before show time.
If anyone failed to sing or dance in unison, the samba school would loose points.
After all 12 top samba schools performed (and many blocos and parties later) there was a championship ceremony a on Wednesday from Sambodromo to announce the winner of the carnival (based on this criteria).
My roommate heard that Salgueiro was a front runner to win the entire competition so we went up to Tijuca to watch the results live from their samba school.
It was a dramatic process that left the crowd cheering with every “10” announced and almost in tears (many were) every time a 9.9 or 9.8 appeared on the scoreboard.
Salgueiro ended up loosing to Unidos de Tijuca by .3 points and the entire room was devastated (until the music started back up again).
This marked the end of Rio de Janeiro Carnival for me despite the fact that blocos and festas continued well into the weekend in centro and all over the city.
I slept for about 20 hours straight and then channeled my inner Pharrell to make the Rio de Janeiro Carnival Happy Video.
Stayed tuned for Rio de Janeiro Carnival: Behind the Scenes coming soon!