Trip Start Sep 27, 2005
23Trip End Mar 07, 2006
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On the Sunday night all of the group went to the Sambodrome. This is an area of Rio that has been closed off to traffic and where a stadium has been built to allow the Samba Schools to parade over half a mile in front of 30,000 people and some judges. This is the most visually and aurally stunning 7 1/2 hours Iīve ever spent. There were 7 schools parading on Sunday and another 7 on Monday and from that start there were people dancing in the stands, encouraging the dancers and just enjoying themselves. Itīs difficult to describe what it is like but that floats stand out for inventiveness, colour and animation, to that is added the costumes, the dancing, the audience participation and the music that just goes on and on and drives everything. All of the floats had men and women dancing all over them and were brightly lit with neon lights and are so large and complex that the people have to be loaded on and off by fork lift truck or by cranes! Then there are seas of dancers between the floats whose costumes add more colour and all are singing along to the song that goes on for the hour and 20 minutes each school has, yes it takes them that time to do the half mile but there are around 4,000 participants per school. The scoring is anathema to me but it includes the floats, how well certain nominated dancers do and how well the crowd interacts with the performers. One school, Rocinha, had a nightmare of a night as at the start of their run it started to rain which turned into a torrential downpour and soaked us to the skin
I didnīt stay for the full 9 hours but the last school I saw was Vila Isabel who were the winners this year. Their last float was a figure of Simon Bolivar standing 40 feet tall. This was too large to pass under a small bridge half way down the course for photographers so as it arrived at the barrier the figure sat down and passed underneath before standing up again. The floats are just amazing.
Carnaval really is party time in Rio and an experience that I will never forget. The pictures donīt do it justice but I hope you enjoy them.