Choosing Your Carnaval Costume

You’ve probably seen all those beautiful Carnaval costumes on TV. They are even more spectacular up close. The costumes define Carnaval as much or more as the intense samba music and the large floats. For those who want to go beyond attending the fun weekly samba school practices and participate in the parade, a choice of costume becomes essential.

In choosing a costume you are not only choosing what you’ll wear, but what group within your samba school’s parade you will be hanging out with all night during the big parade. A sub-group within a samba school is called an Ala. There can be from 100 to several hundred people in each Ala. Most often, groups of friends organize in advance before choosing an Ala so that they can all be in the same group walking together during the parade. It helps to make this decision early because in doing so you get your choice of costumes. The groups can fill up fast, thus limiting your choice of fashion for the evening. Continue reading “Choosing Your Carnaval Costume”

Learning the Lyrics to Your Neighborhood Carnaval Song

Carnaval is best known by the two consecutive evenings of all-night long samba parades. Many neighborhoods have small parades within the neighborhood itself, called “Blocos”. These aren’t what you see on TV. Larger cities have a centralized parade and contest whereby the larger neighborhoods will organize what’s called a “Samba School”, to perform and compete in the larger parade. The parades tend to start late, usually due to the heat. They begin at midnight and run until sunrise. The parades run both Friday and Saturday night of the big weekend of Carnaval, with half the samba schools participating the first night and the other half the second night. A panel of judges determine the winner. One of the most important criteria judged is the quality of the samba school song, both the performance and the lyrics. Continue reading “Learning the Lyrics to Your Neighborhood Carnaval Song”

Liberdade – Samba School Rehearsal with audio

Tonight I tested my new handheld digital record at my neighborhood samba school practice for the upcoming Carnaval parade. Practice is every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night. Wednesdays are for the percussion section only (i.e. marching band, though they don’t march in practice). Fridays and Sundays have the singing portion of the band plus the core dance team. Sundays draw the biggest crowd.

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