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Rio Carnival 2013!

17 Feb

Carnival crept up on us and gradually gripped us in its swirling embrace. Huge overhead hoardings proclaiming ‘Carnaval da Rua’ appeared along the main roads and giant advertising slogans were attached to the sides of the Sambodromo. We forayed into Saara, a souq-like warren of shops selling every imaginable fantasia and accessory; glitter, V for Vendetta masks, M&M costumes, wigs, fairy wings, fake flowers…the only limit to your costume was your imagination and your wallet! Carnival arrived not so much with a splash, but with little puffs of fairydust leading up to the big weekend.

A Michael Jackson themed bloco (Carnival street party) two weeks before carnival itself…although the preparations amongst the real Carnival afficionados have been going on at least since Christmas…started to get us into the swing. Samba and Michael Jackson go surprisingly really well together, especially if you’ve got an excited crowd, enthusiastic singers with fantastic impressions and uninhibited brazilians willing to show off their moonwalk on-stage!

But our real Carnival experience started the weekend before the ‘official weekend’ when we woke up at 6.30am to go to Cordão do Boitatá, a traditional bloco led by a giant folkloreish snake/dragon and with a huge band of drums and brass instruments.

The giant snake/dragon that leads the Cordao do Boitata bloco

The giant snake/dragon that leads the Cordao do Boitata bloco

The Duracell Bunny never ran out of energy for Carnaval!

The Duracell Bunny never ran out of energy for Carnival!

Carnival music

Cordão do Boitatá is where we first heard the traditional carnival music. For some reason I’d thought that all of the music would be samba…I hadn’t realised that there were special carnaval songs, mostly developed from old marching music, called marchinhas. As with all Brazilian festivals, to really feel part of it you have to know the music and Carnival is no exception. We felt like outsiders on that first bloco as everyone danced around singing their hearts out to the songs that we didn’t know or understand. But gradually over Carnival weekend as we went to more blocos and heard them repeated and danced to them in our house the songs became part of the fabric of our Rio life…and they still haven’t left my head.

To give you a taste of the lyrics see the descriptions below and click on the links to listen…many of them are quite old and not politically correct! You can find many more marchinhas here:

Cachaça‘You think that cachaça is water, but its not. Cachaça comes from the distillery and water comes from the river. I could live without bread, rice and beans…I could live without love..the only thing I don’t want to live without is cachaça!’

Allah-La Ô – this was first written for a bloco with an Arabic theme in the 1930s or 1940s. ‘Allah, the heat. We crossed the Sahara, the sun was hot. We came from Egypt and many times we had to pray…Allah Allah send us water to ioiô and iaiá (terms used by Brazilian slaves to address young masters!). Allah my good Allah.’

Balancê – A young man who wants to dance (balancê) with a morena. ‘I want to dance with you… when you walk past me pretending not to see me my heart almost shatters…time is running out and I will finish in the dance..’

Confete – A man remembers with longing his romance with a woman in a columbine costume at the previous carnival and the confete on her dress. ‘I confess that I cried because I remembered that Columbine who joked with me..ahh confete longing for the love that is gone.’

Ó Abre Alas – I have no real idea what this means but it’s a very popular and catchy marchinha!

Blocos
Before I came to Rio my image of Carnival was the huge colourful sparkling parades and practically naked women on the Sambodromo but the whole of Rio becomes one massive party with over 450 different blocos or street parties travelling all over the city. We were really lucky to live with some carnival afficionados and cariocas who take us to their favourite blocos with the constant refrain ‘but you must come…this is THE best one!’ My favourite were the smaller blocos where it was possible to get close to the band and most people were dressed in fantastia (costumes).

Marcha Nerd/Thriller
Part of the ‘Meu sofa or seu’ bloco (My sofa or yours), organised by couchsurfers, it included two people dressed as a sofa and with the nerd/Michael Jackson theme a plethora of MJ lookalikes mixed with cartoon characters. The zombie costumes went down well and we enjoyed fighting the ninja turtles as well as dancing to the Pokemon theme tune and others in portuguese!

This is what the heat does to you!

This is what the heat does to you!

Ninga turtles vs zombies

Ninga turtles vs zombies

I was minding my own business feasting on the flesh of some carnaval goers when this very rude man used his dragon shout....!

I was minding my own business feasting on the flesh of some carnaval goers when this very rude man used his dragon shout….!

The Marcha Nerd crew

The Marcha Nerd crew

Cute! Not quite sure what to make of the gringa zombie taking a photo of them though!

Cute! Not quite sure what to make of the gringa zombie taking a photo of them though!

Sheldon Cooper!

Sheldon Cooper!

Cinebloco
Samba/film theme tunes. Fantastic. Including the ghostbusters chasing a ghost around the crowd.

Santa Teresa Cinebloco

Santa Teresa Cinebloco

Bruna Surfistinha...Bruna 'the little surfer', a sex worker whose clients thought she looked like a surfer and became famous from a blog she wrote about her experiences!

Bruna Surfistinha…Bruna ‘the little surfer’, a sex worker whose clients thought she looked like a surfer and became famous from a blog she wrote about her experiences!

Fun with the Care Bears! And listening to classic carnival tunes.

Fred Flinstones and 'love-a-lot' care bear!

Fred Flinstones and ‘love-a-lot’ care bear!

Natureza!

Natureza!

Rio Carnival Caixa

Tired Care bears!

Tired Care bears!

The Jamaican Bobsleigh team!

The Jamaican Bobsleigh team!

Os Móveis – Bando Vergonha do Posto 6
Listening to older carnival songs on the beach on Copacabana as the sun sets whilst drinking a beer…it doesn’t get much better.

Os Móveis – Bando Vergonha do Posto 6

Os Móveis – Bando Vergonha do Posto 6

!!

!!

Carnival on Copacabana beach

Carnival on Copacabana beach

Vame ET
‘Let’s go ET’, with a much ruder translation if you say this quickly! Rude and alcohol related puns are definitely a feature of Carnival blocos. This was a lovely small bloco with lots of their own songs, huge amounts of energy and great costumes!

Vame ET!

Vame ET!

Giant ET mascot!

Giant ET mascot!

The ET groupees

The ET groupees

The crowd going wild

The crowd going wild

The bateria

The bateria