Carnival Sambadrome – Part 3: Champions Round

Last night was the final night of Carnival at the Sambadrome with the 6 best schools of the year.  Beija-Flor (which means Hummingbird in Portuguese) was the winner.  The schools that we saw the first night were phenomenal, but these 6 were truly extraordinary, so good that even though our night started at 7pm we started till the end (finally got home at 5:30am!). The floats and the costumes were larger than than life, with many more intricate pieces involved in animating them.

The costumes were so vibrant and full of life, so many colors, feathers, and wings, it was so creative and full of detail:Each skit was excellently coriographed, some even had a touch of magic: Or were wildly animated including this float—  Carnival- Flipping Float produced by Pamela Granoff on WellcomeMat These people were actually flipping head over feet for a full hour! I don’t know how they did it; was mind blowing to watch! I would have been throwing up after 2 minutes!

The movie representation floats were some of my favorites! Watching cars come to life: Transformers… Robots in disguise produced by Pamela Granoff on WellcomeMat or the Avatar’s dance gracefully dance, or Indiana Jones escaping the Lost Tomb: Indiana Jones! produced by Pamela Granoff on WellcomeMat

The opening float by Beija-Flor (the winner) actually caught fire while it was passing by us and it had to be put out! (More detailed pictures up on Facebook)

People were waving the Beija-Flor flag and cheering as the parade continued on. The whole night was an amazing experience I am so grateful we were able to be a part of it.

For the Ladies

I forgot to post this pic yesterday…

Thought you girls would get a kick out of this GIANT ‘platform’. If you look closely, you can see that the sexy dancer on top of the shoe is also wearing the same ones! Gotta love Carnival! I must say, I was beyond impressed by how high the heels these women were wearing (while shaking their ‘bunda’s’).  Note: this is the only ‘platform’ shoe I saw the entire night!  The rest of the women were in 5 inch stilettos covered in glitter (if I were in the samba school… you know I would make sure I was on this float!!) Can you believe they were dancing and marching a mile in crazy shoes?!?  What a work out!

Carnival Sambadrome – Part 2: Parade, Floats, Costumes & Bunda’s ;)

Some background for those who haven’t been to or seen Brazilian Carnival: There are 100’s of samba schools, but they get narrowed down to a final 6 (each themed of course).  There were 6 schools for us to see; each school has 8 floats, a Queen, a number of other very sexy dressed samba dancing ladies and hundreds of people dancing in costumes.  Each school has its own song that everyone sings over and over again until it is time for the next school (its a ton of fun and by the end you will know all the words!).Lots of pics to come.. I seriously took about 500 (till my camera died) and the pics don’t even give full justice to how unbelievably amazing these costumes really are:

The first school to kick off the night was “Uniao da Ilha” get to know the scientific universe revealed by Charles Darwin, who revolutionized the world with his Evolution Theory”.  As you can see, this first float has waterfalls and a volcano blowing smoke! Earth’s Memory: This float represents earths memory engraved on the rocks that are evidence of the first forms of life on our planet. There are probably a hundred people on this float- check out those sexy costumes!

Oceans, the Cradles of life...Water was spraying in all directions just like the first float.  If you look closely you will see there is someone dancing on each platform! And all the cute Minos following behind it!

Now this was my favorite float from Uniao da Ilha, Darwin and the Tree of Life: Darwin is depicted as a tree with roots, branches and leaves.  His arms are branches that carry two different truths: one, the biblical version of creation, the other, the human evolution theory.Keep in mind this float was about 3 stories high!

The Second samba school we saw was Salgueiro which basically brought us front and center to the premier of a vibrant film festival.  From slapstick to classic all kinds of movies were portrayed here tonight! Including Flying over Rio: This float is a nod to the animated movie “Rio 3D” and the classic “Flying Down to Rio”. The airplane was flying back and forth across the crowd with 10 ladies dancing on it while the blue bird moved side to side.  Check out all the 3D glasses- I know I’m excited to see this flick

The incredible detail that goes into each and every single costume is truly breathtaking, I mean people spend their entire year making these costumes and floats…  Victoria Secret could learn a thing or two from these Brazilian Queens!!! Her wings were spectacular! I had to put a picture of this Samba Queen because every single man in Brazil LOVES her! I’m not kidding around, seriously every guy that was in the box, in the stands, on the ground, everywhere you turned they were taking pictures and videoing her sexy ‘bunda’!

Check out the video of the float Hollywood is Here which shows the “The filmmakers are going crazy: King Kong is on a tour of the “Central” with a gorgeous (naked painted) blond as women dressed as Marylin “Morro” try to seduce him! 

On to my one of my favorite groups Mocidade was next. There theme depicts how man entered the kingdom of utopia until the ‘canevalle’ thick roots of the Carioca Carnival emerge. The float below is The Last Ice Age: The White Empire, until the most recent ice age, humans were prisoners in forzen caves and sleds represented the desired freedom. Smoke and confetti were flying in all directions.

The last school (before my camera battery crapped out on me) was our samba school (everyone has a school they root for and want to win) Grande Rio who show the treasures of Florianopolis This float The Awakening of the Sanctuary, represents the pearls hidden in oysters, petrified sunken ships, stones, caves and caverns filled with fish, eels, octopus and sea urchins. I know it might be hard to see in the picture, but there was water flowing down the sides of the float, the clam shell was opening/closing and the ‘super sized Slinky’s actually had people (dressed in what looked like giant condoms) inside of them bopping up and down so it looked like the ‘coral’ was moving on its own!

The entire night was extremely impressive, sorry I dont have anything to show for the 2 other schools that participated (Porto da Pedra and Beija-Flor).  Going back for the Grand Champions on Saturday, stay tuned for more Carnival to come!

Carnival Sambadrome Part 1- Preparations & the Box

When you see carnival on TV, you see that there are the grand stands (stadium style) and then there are private boxes… those boxes.. you cannot pay for, you can only be invited to get in them (a family friend was kind enough to invite us!) and once you are invited in, it is an interesting process! First the day before the event you go to a location (in this case the top floor of the Marina Hotel) and they take your pictures ie make you an ID card you have to wear. Then they give you havaianas and a t shirt- there are different colors for each day.  In the same space there is another room full of all sorts of crazy things to decorate your shirt with like a bedazzler (yes think 1980’2 infomercials!), ribbons, feathers, beads etc. 

The day of, you can head back there to also get your nails and Carnival make up done (yes i did it!) LOTS of glitter!! Since this is all organized for you there are vans that take everyone to the Sambadrome.  When you arrive there are people who walk you to your box.

The Box: is like a private box at a football stadium but 1000 times bigger, fancier and crazier! It is 3 floors (top level is stadium style outside with an inside section, first and second levels, are inside with huge windows so you can watch the parade). Each level has multiple waiters walking around with champagne, scotch, beers and anything else you might want to drink as well as a sushi bar, and tons of other delicious food. After eating everything in site, of course one would want a massage… no problem! there are 3 different massage stations- def not your average ‘VIP box’!

Carnival Day 1

CARNIVAL 2011!!!!!!

When they say the city shuts down, they aren’t kidding! Starting at 6pm everyone leaves work and the block parties begin.  Lucky for us the Leblon Block Party was making circles past our apartment (FYI these ‘block parties’ take place in every section of Brazil, we just went to the one near us for the first night).  Basically there is one big float playing music and millions of people in the streets

Most people have some sort of a costume on as you can see (see pic), there are people handing out hats, and of course everyone is drinking beers We made our way around the ‘loop’ a few times, got a pic from our roof— so as you can see it is literally happening right below us!After the block party all of the bars have people pouring into the streets, continuing the Carnival celebration.  This is at Pizzaria Guanabara (fact that we were able to actually sit for a second was a miracle! We made a bunch of other stops along the way including: BibiBar da Praia (amazing caipirinha w/ fresh strawberries and red bull!), a few I can’t remember the names of and then an attempt and Boox (one of the nicer clubs) but apparently you can’t be in flip flops and must wear a shirt…..

More Carnival adventures to come…. this was supposedly one of the more ‘low key’ nights!