|The Queen of the Bateria|
|Written by Giselle W|
|Sunday, 14 March 2010 11:40|
Rainhas de bateria
The rainha de bateria (queen of the drum section) is the skimpily clad girl that parades in front of the drum section (bateria) in the carnival parade, and up on the stage at rehearsals, too.
They don’t have any influence on the parade of the samba school, their performance is completely irrelevant to the judging process, but these queens receive the most attention from public and media alike. In the parade they are surrounded by a mob of photographers, cameramen, interviewers, flatterers and hangers – on. They are the queens of the baterias.
How did this start? The forerunner was Adele Fatima in the 1970s. But the first real Queen of the Bateria, was Monique Evans in 1985. Since then the job has won much status, and public attention now rests less on the parade itself and more on the balance of nature and silicone, and the post of Rainha has acquired a special importance for the media, and for the entertainment of patrons and presidents of the samba schools.
And what is the importance of these beauties for a school of samba? They attract media and hype for their schools. Not as a part of the community that creates a school of samba, but more like a product that can be distributed to the over 100 countries that watch the parade of the samba schools, a product which can generate significant sponsorship. Carnival becomes a show.
To me they have no importance in the context of the parade. But this is not the case for the schools, and even less for the queens themselves. For them it is a golden opportunity for media exposure and a big chance to leverage their careers. They can hope for a part in a television soap opera, or the attention of member of the super rich jet set, or an appearance on the cover of Playboy.
And they go to great lengths to get this attention. What you see is tiny costumes, rich feathers and Swarovski crystals, hypertrophied muscles; and the joy of spouses, boyfriends, lovers, godparents and rich uncles (who are working very hard), and the delirium of the public.
Of course, nothing against the Moniques, Brunets, Lumas and Pagungs, all divine and wonderful. But most of the time there is no identification between the queen in question and her subjects, and many behave like birds of passage, flitting between one samba school and another. And so often at the expense of the beautiful girls of the community who assiduously attend their samba school rehearsals and events all year round. There are few and commendable exceptions, like the beautiful Raissa of Beija Flor and Bruna Bruno of Ilha, who are part of the community of their schools, and have their school in their hearts.
So how do the schools benefit? With money, exchange of favours and suchlike, nothing more. It’s not very commendable, but it’s part of the machine that moves the show. The Rainha can be a a cash machine for the percussionists. According to comments, some schools sell their Rainha de Bateria positions to the highest suitable bidder for tens of thousands of dollars. In 2010 there was at least one case of proven purchase. A Queen of the bateria negotiated her position with a very strong bargaining chip, her boyfriend, who is one of the highest grossing pop singers in Brazil; The school was offered 8o% of the gate money for two shows given by the pop star at their quadra. And a few years ago an ex – rainha complained to the press that the price had been too high. She had been asked to pay for all of the costumes of the 300 – odd drummers; it was just too expensive. She moved to another (presumably cheaper) samba school, instead.