Our first night we went to a bloco in downtown Rio. A bloco is a street party. You can find them all over the city at any hour, weeks before and even days after Fat Tuesday! They have a band with a parade of people that following them through the streets, singing, dancing, and drinking beer. Blocos can have several hundred to hundreds of thousands of people at any given time!
It wouldn't be Carnival with out men dressed as women, women as men, and me as the run away bride. For Carnival it is custom that you have a "fantasia" or costume. It is most common to dress up as famous characters from TV, the news, and movies. Or if all else fails, a pair of harry legs in a dress does the trick.
At the Santa Tedesa Bloco, you have over 100,000 people each year. Santa Tedesa is a neighborhood that sits on the hills of Rio. Famous for its narrow streets, old houses, and breath taking views of the city. Bloco de Santa Tedesa is arguably one of the best days in Carnival. Soaked from rain, sweat, and the residents hose water, you feel nothing but joy ringing from the singing voices. You are crammed between people and hold desperately to those you came with or else loose all hope of seeming them again. OD was the only surviver who made it through with Norm and I. 4 hours later you feel the true meaning of Carnival. It even weens out the weak and weary by starting at 7 am. That makes for an early morning and for us, with feijoada after and the 7 hour Samba School Parade starting at 8pm, an extremely LONG night!
The winner this year... Beija Flor!
In addition to all those costumes and feathers, you get your fair share of "skin"!
And what would be Carnival with out a night at the Samba School Competition. Preparing all year round, each school has 60 minutes to complete their performance down the Avenue of Carnival. This street, lined with stadium and suite seating was made solely for this one weekend a year.
Each school is comprised of thousands of dancers, composers, and singers. The costumes are full of colors and characters, feathers as far as the eye can see. The floats too are breath taking. Larger than life, carrying samba dancing, drum beating Brazilians!
This year there was a tragic fire and several schools lost some or all of their costumes and floats. In a team effort, every school (with their thousands of volunteers) worked together to rebuild what they could in 22 days! Brazilians support their samba schools like they do their soccer teams. The passion is seen in the tears of the winners and the devastating faces of the losers. This competition is one of Rio's greatest shows! The whole country waits and watches for the winner!