During the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the media of several countries usually show a quick covering of it. In addition to being very colorful and lively, the sight of sweaty and semi-naked bodies, for a good part of the world still under the rigors of winter, gives a heady and escapist dimension to the parade. Unfortunately, the international news doesn’t go deep into what is truly at stake on these days of revelry in the city.
The Parade in Sambódromo
The traditional parade of samba schools on Avenida Marquês de Sapucaí (known as Sambódromo) is, in fact, a competition. Every year, the various schools go to the avenue to show their plot for the carnival, usually on historical facts, cultures, nature and personalities. Schools represent communities from different regions of the city and neighboring municipalities (metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro).
Preparations for the parade involve a legion of collaborators and months of work in the barracks (the most important schools are concentrated in the City of Samba). During the weeks before carnival, schools run rehearsals to ensure everything goes as expected on the day of the official parade.
The parade of each school is observed by jurors, who have to evaluate considering ten criterias: percussion band, plot, samba-plot, floats and props, costumes, vanguard group, room master and flag carrier, evolution, ensemble, and harmony. The days of parades of the special group take place on Sunday and Monday. On Ash Wednesday, the result is announced and the best samba school becomes the champion of the carioca carnival.
Another thing that normally escapes the eyes of the international spectator is that the parades of the great samba schools are only a small part of the feast, certainly the most commercial and touristic, but not the most lively and popular.
The party blocks parade through the streets of the neighborhoods, dragging a multitude of participants, many of them costumed. The parades begin the days before carnival, go on through the four official days and they extend until the following weekend.
In order to enjoy the carnival in Rio de Janeiro and capture the festive and humorous spirit of the party, get involved in the processions! And what’s better, it’s free!
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Photo credit featured image: Photo credit: Agência Brasil via VisualHunt / CC BY