Dancing in the Streets at Rio de Janeiro’s Carnivale

 

 

I think there’s only one place on earth and at one time of year that a beautiful bodybuilder will wear a pink string bikini with a tiny tiara and a tutu and walk through the streets with a streamer wand.

But don’t think his manhood is in question…he came up to me said, “Hello Beautiful!” and then dipped and kissed me. But that is Carnival.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in S. America it’s that each country moves to a beat. Tango in Argentina, salsa in Peru and Chile, and in Brazil it’s Samba. If you don’t know how to dance Samba it’s rather easy – pretend you’re doing a slow jog in place and wave your arms in the air in celebration of life.Brazil is color, passion, loudness, and living life out loud. Rio is a beautiful city stretched between hills of jungles with the famous Christ the Redeemer stretching its arms wide in protection of the city.Everyone says you must experience Carnival at least once. It’s on many people’s bucket-lists, but I wasn’t sure about it. I’ve never been a party person. I enjoy wine, but overindulgence in alcohol isn’t my thing. Carnivale seemed too overwhelming and crazy, but this journey has been about expanding my mind and my life – so I decided I had to go.Thank goodness I chose to put it on the list. I loved Carnival! Everywhere you turn there are people in costumes singing. Each day brings another parade through the streets with live bands. The beaches are filled to the max with revelers and excitement. And once again ladies, the men are beautiful.At night, my friend and I headed to Lapa, a neighborhood filled with nightlife. Live bands played in open free concerts. I learned from other Brazilian women about Caipirinha – take three limes and mash them up, add about two tablespoons of sugar, and then about three ounces of vodka or Cachaca. One is all you need to be dancing in the streets and even the men of Brazil will tell you to be very careful with this drink if you choose to imbibe.That’s another note I must mention – the men of Brazil are incredibly kind. I’d been told that they were macho, pushy, and didn’t care about women’s rights. I found this to be incredibly untrue. They worried about my safety, watched out for my friends, and for the most part – well even though the young ones try to kiss you before they know your name – were perfect gentleman that knew how to take “no” very well.

If you choose to go to Carnivale there is one thing you must experience – Sambadrome. A huge permanent structure in the middle of Rio, it’s the place where Carnivale becomes fantastico! The tickets for the two main nights start at $179.00 for Grandstand seats and go to as high as $10,000 for box seats. The grandstands, though crowded, are wonderful to be able to see the entire parade. I sat in section 10, which was the cheapest of all the sections, but I dare say the best. At the end of each school’s parade the drum corp stops and performs right in front of this section. There are six schools per night each performing for 1.5 hours – so yes the parade goes from 9:00 in the evening till 6:00 in the morning.

Each samba school, not really schools but teams, have thousands of dancers and performers. Huge floats with electronics and even waterfalls mark the beginning of each section of the school while a samba song is played throughout the parade. I’ve seen some incredible things in life, but this parade blew my mind. Each school was better than the last and I couldn’t help but dance the night away.

But that’s Carnivale and Brazil. You don’t sleep – you dance. You don’t walk through life bored – you live it to the max!

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