Beija Flor fielded a 67 meter long float in their Rio Carnival samba school parade, 2010.
Heres a picture I took of their giant float as it appeared in the carnival parade. Beija Flor is a famously well organised samba school and, through meticulous advance planning and ingenious engineering, they managed to get it round the corners and along the narrow streets both to and from the sambadrome without any major incident. Beija Flor came third overall in the results, not because of any technical problem with their parade, but because their theme was unpopular.
Ivo Meirelles and the bateria of Mangueira
Here's a video showing Ivo Meirelles, president of the Rio samba schol Mangueira, getting completely carried away with emotion over his bateria in their parade in the parade of Champions, in Rio carnival 2010.
This is not usual behaviour for a samba school president, but then Ivo is not a typical president. He was raised as a musician on the bateria of Mangueira and went on to found the group Funk'n Lata. After a sucessful career as a pop star he returned to the bateria of Mangueira, and put in a brief stint as its principal director. When Mangueira was in big trouble last year, and nobody wanted to be president, Ivo came forward and filled the gap. His stated aim is to bring the samba school back to its roots, and he is responsible for the beautiful Mangueira video that I highlighted in an earlier post.
You can see him riding the sound truck at carnival here
Not just a big show
Its easy to believe that the Rio de Janeiro samba schools are opulent wealthy organisations concerned with putting on a big show for the television cameras. But only a small proportion of Rio's samba schools are in the Special Group. Thre are six groups altogether, and the three lowest groups parade way out of town, in conditions very different from those you see on television.
I think the work of the schools in the lower leagues has much more relevance to the kind of parades that we non Brazilians aspire to. Street parades, family atmosphere, little money - Read more about them here.
As well as more information, I've posted up some photos and also a link to some community TV footage of one of the samba schools in the lowest group, RJ4, so you can see for yourself.
Heading back to London tomorrow. Its been strange staying so long after carnival - past the post carnaval blues stage and well into the normal swing of life here.
After weeks of unbroken skies and sweltering heat of 40+ degrees, a cold front swung in a week ago and temperatures have plummeted by 20 degrees or so. Suddenly everyone is wearing long trousers, boots, cardigans. The beach has been rained off for over a week.
Rio is changing fast. I´ve seen things that I wouldnt have believed possible after first visiting this amazing city 13 years ago.