By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While millions of enthusiastic Cariocas (Rio residents) and foreign tourists attended Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival blocos (street parties) and the Sambódromo samba school competitions, millions more celebrated with equal fervor throughout the country. Many Brazilians consider the Carnival in the city of Salvador to include the biggest street parties in the world.
The capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia and the largest city on the northeast coast, Salvador typically begins its Carnival celebrations before the official start date. Parties run for six consecutive days, starting around 5PM each afternoon and run until 5AM and later the next day.
The parades take place in two main areas of the city; Barra/Ondina which is near the Avenida Oceânica and Campo Grande/Avenida, located by the Avenida Sete de Setembro. Multiple performers and bands parade along the streets on Trios Eletricos, large flatbed trucks with massive sound systems.
“It’s been a while since I last went, but I think its calmer than Rio is now,” Ipanema resident Luciana Dias told The Rio Times. Dias traveled to attend the Carnival celebrations in Salvador many times and when asked why she replied, “The people are nice. The trio eletricos really pick you up. Get you going…”
During the parades, revelers who pay for a pass which is a piece of cloth that sometimes resembles a t-shirt known as an “Abada” gain access to a roped off section. There they are protected by bodyguards during the parade. The prices vary depending on the day and the Trio. Followers who do not purchase an Abada remain outside and are know as pipoca. “I was always in the pipoca and never had any problems,” said Dias.
Whether attendees are behind the ropes with their Abada or they are part of the “pipoca”, they are entertained with the Salvador Carnival which always offers followers a show. They are famous for their special guests on the Trios.
This year, Brazilian Axé singer, Ivette Sangalo made four appearances on the Trios. She performed with two Salvador blocos; Cerveja & Cia and Coruja. During her first performance with the bloco Cerveja & Cia on the afternoon of Saturday, February 9th, she dressed as a bullfighter as an homage to the country of Spain. She appeared dressed as Maria Antonieta during her second performance on Monday, February 11th.
One big surprise for revelers in Salvador this year was the appearance of South Korean pop sensation, PSY. Well known for his international hit single “Gangnam Style”, PSY performed on Friday, February 8th, with another popular Brazilian Axé star, Claudia Leitte. “I won’t forget this Samba kind of energy for the rest of my life!” PSY tweeted on Friday, February 8th, adding, “Touchhing Salvador!”
The Salvador turism department estimated 500,000 visitors during the six days of Carnival. According to Infraero (operating the main Brazilian commercial airports), 300,000 people would pass through the city’s airport during the period.