Monday, January 28, 2008

Rio de Janeiro (Carnival: Febuary 2,3,4 and 5) See yah!

Carnival in Rio has been called the world's most famous party. A million tourists join millions of Rio de Janeiro citizens "cariocas" in enthusiastic revelry spanning several days.

The Brazilian Carnival is an annual festival in Brazil held 40 days before Easter and marks the beginning of Lent. During Lent, Roman Catholics are supposed to abstain from all bodily pleasures, including the consumption of meat. The carnival, celebrated as a profane event and believed to have its origins in the pagan Saturnalia, can thus be considered an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh.

Carnival is a four-day from celebration, happening from Saturday through Tuesday. It is usually in February, sometimes in March (February 2, 3, 4 and 5) this years carnival.

The highlight is the Sambodromo parade. Close runners-up are the street processions and masquerade balls.

The Sambodromo is a 700-meter (half-mile) long parade strip flanked by spectator stands and luxury boxes. On the last Sunday and Monday nights before Lent, the seats are filled with over 60,000 eager on-lookers. Tickets cost up to hundreds of dollars each and sell out quickly.

The attraction is the sounds and sights of the parading samba schools that goes on from dusk to day break. The samba school has nothing to do with education. It is typically a group from a poor neighborhood organized to produce a lavish Carnival procession - for the fun of it.

The floats are accompanied by marching samba bands numbering up to 300 musicians - their drummers ceaselessly pound the contagious samba beat. All is surrounded by a sea of flamboyantly or scantily clad singer-dancers.

A school can have up to 4,000 participants, so melding the ensemble into an organic whole is no easy task. The preparation requires nearly a year of sewing, building, composing, choreographing and rehearsing.

Samba school participants pay for their own costumes, which costs some of them a sizable slice of their income. They willingly do this because Carnival is a fantasy escape, which helps them forget their hardscrabble lives.

Some samba schools that are not invited to partake in the Sambodromo parade. Many take to the streets. Some parade in their neighborhoods and downtown Rio. Their festivities are free public affairs - passers-by may join the fun by dancing behind (and sometimes with) the group's samba dancers and marching bands. Here you directly participate while in the Sambodromo seats you mainly observe.

No comments: