So, as I said earlier, one of the first things my host family did when I got here, was within 10 minutes ask if I wanted to dance with a Samba school in the Sambodromo. I was stunned, and of course I said heck yeah!! Once in a lifetme opportunity.
The sambodromo is where they built a stadium for samba schools just for Carnival in Rio. There are maybe 10 or 20 samba schools in Rio, and each spends all year putting together a 40 minute routine for the parade Sambodromo. They each might have 10 different costumes and 5 floats, or more, and hundreds of people walking with the floats. It is a competition and whichever school puts together the best show wins. Some can spend up to a million dollars on everything.
So after a soccer game on Saturday, Brian and I went to the Samba school building in the neighborhood Rocinha, where they train all year and prepare for the event, and we picked up 6 costumes. The name of the school is Academicos da Rocinha. The costumes are huge, with big masks, shoes, arm, wrist, and leg peices, and a giant waist dress peice.
At about 10pm or so, 6 of us headed out to the subway with our costumes in bags, on our way to the Sambodromo. Our school didn't go on until 4am or 5am, so we went there early to watch a few schools and be spectators. We basically had premium passes in the Sambodromo, a box seat in the middle of the stadium, as close as it gets! Wow! I had looked up ticket prices a few months ago, and for really crappy seats, they were like minimum $150!
So we were literally like 5 feet away from the main drag in the Sambodromo, and watched a few schools go by for several hours. We were even close enough to make eyecontact with some of the dancers. The music that you dance to is incredibly vibrant and rich... At some point, maybe 1am or 2am, not too sure because I've basically stopped carrying a watch here and just do as told, we left the box seats to go get our costumes on and get in line in the staging area. We winded our way through indoor and outdoor coridoors in the backstage Sambrodromo area, and finally found the staging area.
Let me just say, those costumes are NOT easy to put on. Each of the peices needs to have a shoe lace threaded through to secure it. Sifting through all the pieces and trying to figure out what goes where was yet another chore. At this point, it was a bit stressfull because we took a good hour to get our costumes on and wanted to make sure we were in line and in the right place at the right time. Of course, the elaborate waist peice didnt fit me at all, so I at first I tucked it in a bit. Well, since this is searious business and a competition, when one of the guys from the Samba School saw me lined up ready to go, and glanced at my costume, he said no go! He tried to tighten it, but it was impossible. He finally decided to tell me to just dance the whole time with my hands on my waist so it would look like it fit perfectly! If it fell down, that would be really bad for the Samba school.
A pain in the ass, but I could care less at this point, I was walking through the biggest, most famous part of Carnival in the biggest Carnival in the world. We formed organized lines of 7, and made our way past the staging area to the entry of the stadium. I tried to get a place in the middle because I definitely can not Samba dance! There were some frog costumes behind us, and some other angel type costumed people in front of us. The school officials told me to just dance, smile, have fun, and pretend that I knew the lyrics & sing all the songs, haha!
So we all danced our way through the sambodromo. I kept a hand on a hip at all times and was able to wave and use my other hand to dance. I couldnt take photos though. In fact, I had to shove my camera into my underwear and roll my shorts up high enough so they could not be seen by the spectators under my costume! It took a good 40 minutes to make it through the stadium, stopping every 30 seconds to dance in place, then walking at a slow pace, then stopping, walking, stopping, walking... I definitely got tired of dancing and was sweaty from the weight of the wings and the giant mask.
We finally made our way to the finish line, where everyone promptly dropped their costumes. I could have kept the whole costume, but alas, I don't have room for the amazing mask.
Youtube videos in progress...
Picking up 6 costumes for the Sambodromo and trying to fit into a subcompact=not easy.
Our samba school, Academicos da Rocinha.
Taking the subway with our costumes to the Sambodromo for the Parade
A random float:
Box Seats Sambodromo!
Costumes of another Samba School:
Dressed up and Ready to go!
Random Carnival Picture:
Mama and Papa Soares dressed up: