Rio de Janeiro famous (and infamous) Carnaval

Carnaval de Rio 2011, Sambodrome

/// il manque : l’influence afrique noire, la bonne ambiance malgre la pluie

The Rio Carnival was a must do for us, as it may well be the quintescence of street dancers and musicians, with the 3 millions dancers and several thousand music bands, all in the street.

We were expecting a lot and we got it!

For 4 days and nights, all the city switch to a crazy mood. The day before the Carnival, the mayor gives the key of RIo De Janeiro to the king Momo, king of the chaos and party.
Know you have an idea of what follows.

Rio’s Carnival is a lot about samba, so better start listening:

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Basically, the Carnaval is 3 main evens occuring at the same time :

At the Sambodrome

Carnaval de Rio 2011, Sambodrome, opening of the Carnival

You probably already saw this big architectural monument on TV.

Carnaval de Rio 2011, Sambodrome

It is about samba school of Rio, parading trough the Sambodrome : a huge complex of benches around a large alley, designed by Oscar Niemeyer ().

Every evening (and night) is dedicated to a different group of school, the better, the latter. The level of preparation of these samba school is difficult to believe : during one year, they train their 2-3 thousands students to dance original choreography with sumptuous costumes, between the small dozen of very large floats.

Carnaval de Rio 2011, Sambodrome

Every student parade singing the specially scored for the occasion and played by a 100 people percussion band and singers. Costumes, song and choreography are all related to a theme which the school choose.

Carnaval de Rio 2011, Sambodrome

Carnaval de Rio 2011, Sambodrome

The organisation and order of the parade is really important, and every pack of dancer is managed by a dedicated supervisor who synchronise choreography.

From their lodges, judges are seeing everything and rate school of their theme, costumes, float, music, and motivation. Several television are broadcasting this during the whole night, as a direct.

Carnaval de Rio 2011, Sambodrome

One year of preparation for a few hours of parading, this makes the Rio Carnival the most beautiful in the world.

Carnival de Rio 2011, sambodrome

Carnaval de Rio 2011, sambodrome

Amongst the dancers are widely different people. Samba school are at the border of favela, and so a lot of dancers are quite poor, but about 5% of the dancers are strangers, who pay this privilege and so help everybody to be able to have a costume.

In the Street of Rio

But what make this Carnival so exceptional, it is the popularity of it.

Carnaval de Rio 2011, av. Rio Branco

During 4 days and 4 nights all the major street are full of people without interruption : hundreds of floats filled with musicians and dancers and followed by massive crowd of happy people.

Carnaval de Rio 2011, av. Rio Branco

This is called a “blocos”, each has his particular musical style (samba, techno …), and every one as a massive amount of loudspeaker speaking very very loud.
The craziness of the crowd os difficult to imagine : people of every age are dressed up.

About one third of the guys are cross dressed with very few clothes one, a big contrast with their body built bodies. After all Rio is a beach city.

Carnaval de Rio 2011, Painted man

People, clothes, and even street become soaked up with beer and caipirinhas.
Cariocas (inhabitants from Rio) party as couple or in group of men/women.

The atmosphere is surprisingly really good, and the total anarchy in the street is not changing that. What would promptly turn to riot in any other country stay a big 3 millions people 96 hours party!

Carnaval de Rio 2011, food seller in the street

The crowd is supplied by an army of street food sellers : beers and soft, sausage and BBQ, popcorn, hamburgers of all kind.

Ball and concert all over the city

At last, this Carnival is also about a ton of concert and balls during this 4 times 24 hours.

Big concert stages are build in the city, and musician of all kind play : by 2 hours of time, we saw a group of Carnival singers. a samba group, a jazz-fusion group …

Here is an anecdote which tells well the extent of this unique event:
We were listening to the concert in a very crowded place when an aerial tramway overfull is passing by on the aerial viaduct. The crowd around us cheers and whistle to the tramway to salute, so do the people in the tramway. few seconds latter the tramway driver stop it and goes back to salute more properly the crowd!

Nobody is spared by the madness of the Carnival!