The big parades of the major samba shools of Rio de Janeiro are all viewable on youtube. These days youtube is also showing the more precarious parades of the lower groups in years gone by, and some of these are amazing, for all the wrong reasons. There have been schools that have had to parade without any drummers. Here's Unidos de Campinho, parading in the sambodromo in 1992.
In fact, the drummers were there, but the lorry carrying the instruments hadn't arrived. The bateria (drummers AND drums) is such an important part of the parade that it has its own separate judges. No drums, no marks. The commentary tells us that the instruments turned up eventually, but right till the end of this clip there are no drums to power the dancers, just a cavaquinho and a singer. A particular shame as the song itself was lovely that year. You can see all of the dancers doing their best to participate with energy, but it must have been hard.
This sort of thing tends to happen to samba schools in severe financial and organisational trouble. The following year Unidos do Campinho failed to parade at all due to financial problems, and soon the samba school was completely disbanded.
The video commentator tells us that it happened once to Mocidade Independente do Padre Miguel, when the bateria was being led by the great Mestre Andre. The truck carrying the drums suffered an accident on the way to the parade ground in the Rio Branco. Alternative transport couldn't be organised in time. But Mocidade Independente have continued on to be one of the great samba schools of the special group in today's Rio carnival.
A few months ago I posted up a link to video of some of the samba schools in Rio carnival's lower leagues. Some much better quality video is now beginning to appear on youtube.
These schools are parading in Intendente Margalhes, a street miles away from the Sambodromo. They have very few resources and little cash to stage their desfile but I find these Samba school parades extremely impressive, and also rather moving. Also certainly not little by any normal standards, just small compared to the super - escolas of the top leagues. They parade on the same night as the big, famous samba schools over in the Sambodromo, but I think I prefer these.
One day I hope to be able to go to Intendente Margalhes and watch these unsung jewels of carnival, live.
Riotur (the Rio de Janeiro state tourist office) has announced the prices of tourist tickets for Rio carnival 2011. These are the tickets for sector 9, which is reserved for tourists. However, you need to bear in mind that the prices below are face value prices, and to get them you would have to be in Brazil on the precise day that the tickets are released. In practice this is very unlikely to happen. These tickets are bought by tourist agency and tour organisers, who have to make a living. Expect to pay well above these prices if buying from an agency, whether online or in person in Rio.
Saturday - Grupo de Acesso - Arquibancadas (stands or bleachers) R$30. Frisas (private boxes) will R$800 per seat.
Sunday and Monday - Grupo Especial (the top group) tickets will cost between R$550 for the arquibancadas and R$5,800 for the frisas.
On the following Saturday, in the parade of Champions, tickets will cost R$350 for the arquibancadas and R$3,400 for the frisas.
Imperatriz’ samba enredo has been voted the most popular of the Grupo Especial songs for Rio Carnival by a specially selected panel of judges in O Dia, the Rio de Janeiro newspaper. I agree; nice melody, good lyrics and, crucially, easy to sing.
Imperatriz’s theme for carnival 2010 is ‘Brazil of all the gods', and you can see a preview of their costumes for carnival 2010 here. Imperatriz’s carnavalesco (artistic designer) is Max Lopez. The official Grupo Especial CD is released on 7th December; you can buy it here.
Tickets are going on sale in the next couple of weeks. They will all be sold out in minutes, mostly to Cariocas (Rio locals) and agencies. As a tourist you are very unlikely to buy at these original face prices. Expect to buy from an agency with a mark-up of at least three times the face value. Its already possible to reserve tickets for the sambodromo through online agencies.
Original face values:( R$ = Brazilian Reals);Frisas (for 6 people) from R$3000 to R$6,500 per night, Arquibancadas (stands or bleachers)- from R$110 to R$300 per night per seat.
If you get the opportunity, here's how to get the very best out of your experience.
You can buy a tourist package for Rio Carnival that includes parading with a Samba School. You can also organise it yourself (advice below). Either way, if you want to know how to get the most out of this once in a lifetime experience, here's how to go about it.
A costume for Rio Carnival 2010 from the samba school Imperatriz.