Blocos, the Spirit of Carnival.

Screen shot 2011-02-22 at 1.49.18 AMBlocos can be loosely equated with the American block party. You see the connection right? ‘bloco’ and ‘block.’ So it means a block or grouping of people together partying. It also means the city block that such a  party takes up (in many parts of Brazil they can take up several blocks and a square).

So, in Rio blocos are differentiated from Samba Schools or official big Carnival parades because, they don’t usually have any floats that go with them, in some cases there may be a car with a sound system attached to it so we can hear a singers voice. Overwhelmingly however, blocos are composed of a percussion section and often a horn section playing traditional marchinhas or old school marching songs with lyrics that carry a double meaning and have a strong horn section.

One of the best part of the blocos is that they are mobile! Yes, they often start in a square in some part of the city, the “gathering spot” and then march along a path with revelers in tow… boom… here you sing the tunes if you know them, smile awkwardly if you don’t, purchase beer and other refreshments from vendors (including rio mate!) and try and catch the eye of a beautiful maiden, or beau, whatever your preference. During carnival time it is also fairly common for people to put on an array of simple costumes, like sailor outfits or superman outfits or all sorts of ridiculous but very funny attire, I love it when girls dress all creatively, like Poison Ivy or as nurses.

For pictures  of 2010 Rio Carnival Street Blocos, check our facebook gallery.

The blocos also have wicked names, like “Cutucano Atrás” or “Tickling [my] behind” and Vem em mim que eu sou facinha” or “COme to me because I’m easy (femine)” and “Que merda e essa?” or “What shit is this?”

Now there are blocos all over Brazil, in every city and territory, the best I’ve seen (and I’ve seen lots from São Luis to Belo Horizonte) are in Rio and Recife. They are simply super creative and in Recife you have like 700 different types of blocos in each neighbourhood!

Anyways our good friends at BrazilCarnival.com published (or rether re-posted much like we do) the schedule for the pre-carnival and the carnival blocos in Rio de Janeiro. Just a  note, my favorites: Orchestra Voadora, Maracutaia, Rio Maracatu, Me enterra Na Quarta, Cordão do Boitata.

from their site:

In total, there will be 443 licensed Rio Street Carnival bands – blocos, so the tough thing here will be deciding where to go!  The list we published is separated by dates and group of neighborhoods, so you can locate yourself in a practical manner.

Prepare your costume or no costume and join in!  Everything is free (except the innumerous beers you will certainly drink) and certainly the most democratic street carnival celebration on the entire planet.  I am sure you will identify yourself with one of them and maybe meet the love or your live, or of the day!

so much fun

so much fun

Alex Bordokas

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22 February 2011

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