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History of the Rio Carnival Parade


The famous parade organized for the Rio de Janeiro Carnival has been going on since the decade of 1930.

The parade always starts Sunday evening and keeps going until early morning Monday.

Formerly the parade took place at Praca Onze but due to its ever growing popularity it was moved to Av. Presidente Vargas in 1984, where the parade finally found its permanent home: the Sambadrome [or "sambódromo" in Portuguese].

For extroverted ones only: tourists can also buy a costume and parade along the dancers in one of the samba schools.

In the recent years there has been a resurgence of block parties in Rio de Janeiro. These parties include Street Bands called "Blocos" and you will find such parties in suburbs all over Rio. You should check out those too, there is more than just one carnival.

Rio Samba Schools

A samba school can either be two things: either an actual school or a collaboration of local neighbours that want to attend carnival. Some of the most famous samba schools include Beija-Flor de Nilopolis, Imperio Serrano, Unidos da Tijuca, Academicos do Salgueiro, and Mocidade Independente.

This competition is the core of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival celebrations. Each samba school chooses a theme portray in their entry to the sambadrome. Samba schools work all year round to build the best floats and costumes, and play the best music from their "bateria" (drum band). Each school´s entry includes many parts featuring from six to eight floats and thousands of participants.

Composition of a samba school

Each samba school has to follow a special order with these entries: First, the "comissão de frente", the first wing. It includes up to fifteen people who introduce the school and set the general mood. They present choreographic dances in fancy costumes. Then comes the school´s first float: the "abre-alas".

Other important roles include: the "flag-carrier" (porta-bandeira), a very important lady in charge of the samba school flag, and the "Master of Ceemony" (mestre-sala), who is must draw attention to "his queen", the porta-bandeira.

Floatees are also important as are the people who dance in the floats: the "destaques". These floatees have the most luxurious and expensive costumes and they can be extremely heavy. The main "destaque" has to dance and sing all the time the float is parading.

Other mandatory aspect is the "ala das baianas" (Baia women wing). It includes at least 100 women. Along with other dancers, they are called "passistas", samba school affiliates that mach along the samba-school floats.

Carnival Flag Carrier
Baianas Wing

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