Sympatia e quasi Amor, one of Rio's moost famous blocos, is being transmitted live online by globo, right now..
Follow this link http://g1.globo.com/videos/carnaval/v/transmissao-ao-vivo-g1/606348/
Carnival isnt here yet, but in Rio 75 street parades are scheduled ths weeked alone. On Friday the biggest will probably be Cordao da Bola Preta, Saturday sees Simpatia é Quase Amor, on of Rio's other really popular blocos, parading in the afternoon in Ipanema. On sunday here's anothe huge bloco, Suvaco da Christo, starting at 9am in a geerallu unsucessful attempt to discourage enormous crowds. For full details of these and many more blocos this weekend, visit our Rio carnival bloco schedule page.
Update - the press reckon the quarter of a million people participated in street blocos in Rio over the weekend - and carnival is still a week away!
I've posted up the start of the annual list of Rio carnival blocos, part 1. There are so many blocos this year that I'm having to do this in several sessions. Sorry it's so late; he list was published late (mid Jan) and I was away for the first two weeks of February. Even just concentrating on the blocos in the south of the city, the list is longer than ever. You can access it here:
Rebuilding their carnivals: Grande Rio, Portela and Uniao da Ilha
The three schools affected by the fire in the city of samba are working frantically to rebuild their carnivals.
Grande Rio - Lost all of its floats and community costumes - presumably this means that at least some of the commercial costumes (the most luxurious) were kept elsewhere. They still have to produce 3,000 costumes, and are working 20 hours a day. Everyone is helping, fans, directorrs and even their Porta Bandera. Giant sculptures are being replaced. Grande Rio has been moved into a temporary work space in barracao 7 in the city of Samba. Their president reckons that they will be able to parade five floats in carnival, all of which will have been built from scratch since the fire. But Grande Rio has plenty of resources.
Uniao da Ilha has already managed to reconstruct its float 'Arranha. 14 people have been working on it around the clock. The metal frame of the float was damaged in the fire, but it has been repaired. Their floats are squeezed into barracao 7 alongside Grande Rio's
Portela is remaking its costumes in the barracao of its childrens samba school, Portelinha, and its floats in the square in the centre of the Cidade do Samba.The president plans to put on a full carnival parade, but there are problems sourcing materials, especially those that have to come from afar.
A lot more care is being taken over fire precautions now in the City of Samba, with firemen working in pairs in constant inspections of the areas at risk.
Rio carnival judges are hard to source. The league of samba schools has to select people with the expertise to judge the various categories of the Rio Carnival parade, but who have absolutely no connection with any of the samba schools. Even a friendship with a samba school member is enough to disqualify a candidate. The judges then have to go on a course run by the league, to learn about the carnival. You get theatre and dress designers, sculptors, writers, classical musicians.
During the carnival parades themselves, the judges aren't allowed to talk to anyone. There's excellent and copious food and drink in the judges' boxes - and air conditioning - but it's still a marathon. The parades go on for 7 or 8 hours. The judges are encouraged to take notes, and these notes and the marks are taken and sealed immediately after each parade. The marks are unsealed and read out, one mark at a time, during the results ceremony on the wednesday after carnival. Nobody knows which school will win until the last marks are read out. The notes are published on the league of samba schools' website several weeks after carnival (when fans' tempers have had time to cool).
It's a marathon, but some judges have to work much harder than others. The judges of the samba enredo (song) and the enredo (theme) can do much of their judging before the carnival even starts. The judges of bateria, commisao da frente, and mestre sala / porta bandeira, are only allowed to judge what happens when these sections are directly in front of their judges' box. But pity the poor harmonia, evolucao and conjunto judges. They have to keep judging during the entire parade. And if they miss anything, you can be sure there will be hordes of disgruntled fans complaining on the internet within minutes of their marks being announced.
Portela fans are up in arms. The league of samba schools has decreed that the three schools affected by the fire in the city of samba will be neither judged or demoted. But a large and vociferous portion of Portela participants want their samba school to be judged this year, despite the fire.
Portela has won more carnivals than any other samba school. They're also one of the oldest, and in 80 - odd years of paticipation, they have never failed to be judged. Fans point out that the destruction in the barracao should only affect the marks for the floats and costumes. The other 8 sets of marks should be unaffected.
Thousands of people have been working on their performances for months. Bateria, porta bandeira and mestre sala, and the comissao da frente have been perfecting their routines - which will be the same even with simpler costumes. The Samba enredo (song) is unaffected. The theme can still be expressed and the harmony and evolution of the school during the parade is not affected. If anything, people may be able to show more energy in the parade without the big, heavy costumes.
The enormous fire that devastated the barracaoes of Grande Rio, Portela and Uniao da Ilha has destroyed more than the costumes and floats.
Grande Rio's barracao was completely gutted. The samba school had recently opened a VIP restaurant there with the latest in modern kitchen equipment. Most of the trophies that the samba school had won were also in the barracao, along with computers, photos, movies, and much of the school's collection of historical records. Works of art, quality furniture (from Paris) and a hydromassage pool also went up in flames. And as well as almost all of the costumes for this year over 300 special masks, sent from New York to complete the bateria costumes, were also destroyed.
The samba school directors reckon that at least 15 million R$ of property were destroyed in the fire.
The massive fire in the city of samba affected 3 samba schools. Grande Rio had everything destroyed, floats, costumes, the lot. Uniao da Ilha managed to save most of their floats, but lost all of their costumes. Portela has also lost its costumes, but its floats weren't ready so less has been destroyed.
Big fires are a frequent problem before carnival. Costumes and floats are highly inflamable, and there's lots of welding and other electrical work going on. But there's never been a fire before that devastated three schools at the same time.
The league of samba schools has responded by changing the rules this year. Grande Rio, Uniao da Ilha and Portela will parade, but will not be judged, And no school wil be demoted (two will go down next year). The Rio Town hall has made money available to the three schools to reconstruct a parade, although last I heard, this money hadn't yet arrived.
The samba school technical rehearsals in the sambadrome are continuing. Every saturday and sunday two samba schools parade. And in the wait between the samba schools, this year the Rio Town Hall has come up with a new idea, which is an unexpected hit.
They have produced a group - o bloco de comlurb, which passes down the avenida on top of a sound truck, with their own specially written samba. Comlurb is the Rio organisation responsible for keeping the streets clean. In 2010 they had to clean 760 tonnes of rubbish off the streets during carnival. So this year they have taken the propaganda war against litter directly to the Rio Sambistas. Their samba is all about not littering the streets. And its very catchy.
The lyrics are very direct - "The droppings of your dog, cannot stay on the ground, put your rubbish in the rubbish bin", etc. Sounds much better in Portuguese - ' e o coco de seu cachorro'. I cant explain here why this is so catchy and funny, you have to hear it, but it's caused a huge amount of comment. Maybe it will make a difference. I wish I could find the words written down somewhere.
Just been looking at a wonderful new documentary about Rio carnival. Made by National Geographic, and focussing on the preparations for carnival. A really thorough look at what goes in to making the Rio carnival the greatest show on earth. You can watch it online at the link below, but I'm hoping to buy a copy.