Sorry theres been so few blog entries - Im in Rio!
Its quite debilitating flying from 5 degrees heat in London to 42 degrees heat here. But Rio is as amazing as ever. Walking along the road here in Copacabana I just saw a man out walking his parrot!
Tonight there are technical rehearsals in the avenida. And quadra rehearsals in most of the major samba schools, afterwards. And bloco rehearsals. And also bloco parades; Rio´s street carnival has started really early this year. One unexpected side effect of forcing Rio´s blocos to register with City Hall this year is that their parades are now official and happening in places where it would have been impossible before. They actually closed the Rio Branco on Friday for 2 blocos,2 whole weeks before carnival!
Just saw a stunning video of Mangueira's samba for carnival 2010. Filmed on location on the hill of Mangueira, by the people of the samba school - exquisite. If you want to know what a samba school is really about, this just about encapsulates the whole thing.
You can see it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LWNemMExcg
Every year Globo television broadcasts short 'vignettes' of bits of the samba schools' songs; the samba enredos. These little clips appear between regular TV programs in Rio at various times of the day. This year these vignettes show the dancers, drummers and singers of the samba school. In previous years they seemed to focus as much on Globo’s TV stars (presumably the ones parading with the school) as with the people of the samba schools themselves.
Heres a link to the vignette of Imperatriz, who have my favourite samba enredo this year. If you want to see the other clips, they're all linked from that page.
Globo has a very close relationship with the organisation of the Special group parades. The website of the League of Samba Schools, LIESA, which organises the parades, is http://liesa.globo.com/. The samba school parades are peppered with Globo soap stars, usually on the floats, and you can be sure that the television coverage will linger on each and every one of them.
They get interviewed live before and after the parades, always saying exactly the same things (THRILLING!!!!, MARVELOUS!!!!!, EMOTIONAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
It’s generally very annoying for us gringos watching the TV coverage. We don't know who these people are. We want to see the passistas and the bateria and crowd warm-ups at the start of the parades, and the dramas of broken floats, and instead we get interviews with people we’ve never heard of, gushing platitudes in Portuguese – it isn’t even interesting visually.
But Globo pours a huge amount of money into carnival to secure the exclusive broadcasting rights; it has to be made worth their while. And for Brazilians this stuff has meaning. It’s deeply annoying to the real carnival fans, but it pulls in a lot of viewers with no interest in carnival but with an addiction to the gossip columns - Rio Carnival as a reality TV show.
"HostelBooker.com" reports recent surge in Rio de Janeiro accommodation prices
February accommodation prices in Rio de Janeiro have risen to more than 10 times their standard value according to a recent study conducted by leading travel company HostelBookers.
The hostel and budget accommodation specialists’ study found that the hostels who still have availability will be charging 367% more on average for dorms and beds.
Despite owners charging 367% more for Carnival accommodation this year, hostels remain the cheapest and most popular option for travelers.
This has been fuelled by travelers’ high demand for accommodation at the upcoming Carnival and Rio’s status as a premium travel destination. Some Rio hostels are considering marking up their prices even further to capitalize on the event’s popularity amongst tourists.
Hostel price increases are nothing compared to the cost of hotel accommodation. Last minute hotel bookings have reached over £377 for a single night.
From a report by hostelbookers.com - read their full report HERE.
Rio carnival tickets went on sale last Wednesday and sold out in 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, if you are a tourist you don't need to worry - these are the tickets reserved for Rio inhabitants (cariocas). Despite the League of Samba School's system of only selling a maximum of four tickets over the phone to each customer, who has to prove that they live in Rio, many of these tickets will end up with touts and ticket agencies. Its the poor Carioca samba fans who then can't then afford to buy them at inflated mark ups.
However, somehow my article has disappeared from this blog, along with all earlier blog entries. This is a summary - I'll do a full rewrite soon. You can buy the official CD of Rio carnival 2010 HERE
Alex de Oliveira is well known in the world of Rio carnival, having been Rio’s official Rei Momo (king of Misrule) for 10 years.
During carnaval, the keys of the city are symbolically handed to the Rei Momo at midnight on the Friday of carnival weekend, and he hands them back on midnight of Shrove Tuesday. He represents the spirit of Carnival, and has to be everywhere; in the street blocos, the rehearsals, the parties and events leading up to carnival; and then in the street blocos and the parades of all of the samba schools. He has to be jolly, happy, fat, Carioca, and an excellent samba dancer.
The Rei Momo is elected every year through a competition, and in 1997, when Alex was first elected, the rules stated that Rei Momo had to be very fat, with a minimum weight of 130 kilos. This was no problem for he weighed 225 kilos.
The principal director of a Rio Samba School's bateria is the person with overall responsiblity for the drummers It's a huge job.
The mestre da bateria has to be primarily a people manager and organiser. With nearly 300 drummers in carnival, and hundreds more hopefuls turning up for rehearsals, enormous skills of leadership and diplomacy are called for. And there are two or three major rehearsals a week, and events to organise, and inventories of drums and equipment to maintain, and drums to repair and keep track of. It is enormously time consuming, for months on end. And a mistake in carnival can lead to immediate dismissal.
Traditionally, calling someone a mestre meant that they are true masters of all of the instruments in a samba school drum section. For the principal director of a samba school's bateria, this skill is perhaps less important than leadership, charisma, a very good ear, organisation and diplomacy. But these days people outside of the world of baterias tend to use the term Mestre de Bateria for any principal director. Few people incorporate all of the necessary skills, but each bateria has a team of directors, and a good principal director will devolve responsibilities and make the most of the talents of their team.