There is a one place in the world, on one specific day day, when everything is posible. Welcome to Rio, welcome to Carnival!!!
The Rio Samba Parade
The Rio Samba Parade is really distinctive from all other street parades held at some other places of the world. It started as other street festivities, groups of people parading through the streets playing music and dancing. The paraders would cross-dress over sexual and social roles.
However, the Carnival parades in Rio developed into something special, a competition between the samba schools. The main competition was originally held downtown.
Until the mid-1980s bleachers for the spectators were assembled and disassembled every year on Av. President Vargas, one of Rio’s major arteries. Then the principal parades were moved to the Sambodromo, especially built for this event.
Preparation for the Samba Parade starts month in advance the year preceding Carnival, as each samba school mobilizes thousands of supporters who will create the various parts of the school’s display.
First of all, the theme of the year is chosen. Then the school’s samba song of the year is selected through competition, while the school’s Carnival Designer creates the ideas of the costumes and the floats.
When ready, the sketches move into production. By December, the rehearsals begin and, in time for Christmas, the schools’ annual samba songs are recorded and released to the record shops.
The Rio Samba Parade is not a street happening where people move chaotically about as they like but more of a highly orchestrated show of vast proportions. Every parader has a specific role and place according to his costume in a particular wing of a particular section of the samba school he/she is parading in support of.
Each year each school chooses a different theme for the Samba Parade. It can be celebrating a particular period or some famous figures of the Brazilian history, highlight a special event or talk about anything really what might move the spirit and imagination; like a special animal or one of the elements, like water or fire, etc.
The school has to illustrate the chosen theme through all its work – the samba tunes, especially written for that year’s theme, the richly decorated floats and the costumes of their 3,000 to 5,000 parading members designed by the school’s Carnival Designer (Carnavalesco).
The parade of every school is highly organized and designed. They line up in a unique way to present their pageant. The schools are divided into a number of sections and each section has a number of wings of about 100 people wearing the same costume.
Sometimes even 2 wings (app. 200 people) have the same costume. You will find more details about the role and name of some special sections of the Parade on the other side of this page.
In between the wings, there are about 10 Carnival floats, separating the sections. Most of them are pushed along by men from the School’s community but some are motorized and have mechanical parts. The floats carry some special guests on top along with some young and mesmerizing samba dancers in very elaborate, awe-inspiring costume creations.
The costumes are extremely imaginative, colorful, elaborate and detailed. They are truly original, designed and made from scratch each year. They have mirrors, feathers, metallic cloth, silk and sometimes gems or coins. These costumes take months to make. The work starts roughly 8 months in advance.
Each samba school has its own distinctive colors (of its flag) and costume style. The color scheme is reflected in may parts of their parade.
The biggest and most elaborate costumes are worn by the main floatees (destaques), members chosen with honor by the samba schools to wear these special costumes.
Even though complete nudity is not officially allowed, sometimes floats carry topless or almost-naked beauties, male and female, wearing only body paint, lots of glitter and a smile.
You may think of the whole event as a tropical opera or rather of several operas happening on one night. It is beautiful to watch and the experience for the paraders themselves is so intense that the memories last for a lifetime.
How is the Samba Parade judged
The Samba Parade is a really glorious competition for which the scores are given by the judges. Just like sports it offers entertainment while it has its rigid rules.
The schools are judged in 10 categories. There are 4 judges of every category (altogether 40 of them). Every judge gives his scores on a scale of 5-10 (with fractions), 10 being the best one. They are counted and announced on Ash Wednesday, just after Carnival.
The judges’ booths are spread along the Samba Avenue (most of them in Sector 2, opposite Sector 7) and are clearly marked with a banner reading “Julgadores”.
So come and join the carnival, the biggest party in the world, the party that never ends!
source : Rio Carnival