Rock In Rio! – Rio De Janeiro’s Merriment
South American countries are known for three things; football (without a doubt), party-loving people and huge celebrations; and nothing affirms these more than the Carnival in Rio which takes place before Lent every year. Known as the biggest carnival in the world, The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro sees some 2 million people daily on the streets dancing, screaming and having a good time, portraying the true culture of Brazil. It is this one week where everyone from all walks of life drop everything they have – status, money, you name it, and make merry as equals.
The carnival dates back to 1723 when Portuguese immigrants from the islands of Açores, Madeira and Cabo Verde were introduced to Entrudo. Back then, people went out to the streets and soaked each other with buckets of water while also throwing mud and food. Though they were just having fun, not everyone shared the same sense of humor, hence these often ended up in street brawls and riots. As the concept kept changing, more organized parades were being held, with the Emperor and the aristocrats joining in the fun. The festival that we know today evolved with cross-cultural influences, politics and music.
But it wasn’t until 1928 when the first escolas de samba or samba school was formed by Mangueira and gave the carnival its colors. The theme songs, elaborate costume and floats by Manguiera’s samba school immediately became the main attraction of the carnival since its introduction. Noticing the success and its impact, many other teams from different communities in Rio’s neighborhood followed his footsteps and formed more samba schools to take part in the carnival. Now, with more participating schools, the samba parade became the most popular event in Rio. The streets of Rio remained as the main stage for the samba parade. Come 1984, the Sambadrome materialized. Built by world-famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, the huge exhibition place was now the preferred spot for samba schools’ parades. The Sambadrome is like a huge alley with tiered viewing areas along the alley for the spectators. The balls take place in the Copacabana Palace and beach. Other locations are packed massively with carnival participants, making this celebration the largest in the world.
The core aspects of the Carnival are music and dance. The most famous dance is the Samba, a Brazilian dance with African influence. The music, consisting of irresistible beats and rhythms forces the crowd to explode in dance frenzies. Each neighborhood in Rio has its own favorite Carnival street bands. To date, there are more than 300 active bands in Rio and the number keeps increasing each year. The Carnival bands consist of an orchestra, mainly brass. They march along a predetermined route or remain at one place. Regardless, they always attract people wherever they went and are usually joined by hordes of enthusiastic samba revelers dressed in costumes, bathing suits, plain clothes, and many even in drag. Wherever you go, your body will be aching to dance, scream and enjoy.
The best-known Carnival usually takes place in Recife together with the neighboring Olinda (in the Northeast of Brazil) and Salvador. But the biggest and most famous carnival is undoubtedly Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.