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By Maíra Amorim, Senior Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – If you don’t have the tickets yet to watch the samba parade at the Sambódrome, one of Rio’s most popular Carnival events, it might be too late as they sell out early. But if you have them already, be prepared to watch a unique and amazing spectacle of music and dancing.

Luiza Brunet will be parading with Imperatriz Leopoldinense during Carnival this year, photo courtesy of ocarnval/Yahoo Creative Commons License.
Luiza Brunet will be parading with Imperatriz Leopoldinense during Carnival this year, photo by ocarnval/Yahoo Creative Commons License.

There are twelve samba schools from the “Special Group” competing to be the best. Six will have their parade on Sunday and the other six on Monday. The winning school is announced on Wednesday afternoon. If you are going to the Sambódromo, or Marquês de Sapucaí, be ready for a very long night, as the parades are set to begin at 9PM and usually finish around 5AM or 6AM.

Sunday night will start with União da Ilha, a samba school from the neighborhood of Ilha do Governador (close to the GIG international airport). Their enredo (theme) is “Dom Quixote de La Mancha, o Cavaleiro dos Sonhos Impossíveis” (Don Quixote, the Knight of Impossible Dreams.)

The school theme means that all the floats and costumes will be related somehow, sometimes the connection is obvious, other times very abstract, but it’s Carnival and you just have to go with it.

Following is Imperatriz Leopoldinense with the enredo “Brasil de todos os Deuses” (Brazil of all Gods). Another key for the newbies is that every school has it’s colors and they have to use on the parade, Imperatriz, for example, is white, green and gold.

Also, all schools have their bateria (percussion team), which is the heart of the music. In front of the musicians, they all have also a Rainha (Queen) a beautiful woman who leads them and salutes the audience. At Imperatriz, the Rainha is Luiza Brunet, an ex-model who is over forty but is as good (or better) then some of the younger Rainhas.

Known for their elaborate performances Viradouro will be a school to watch out for, photo of o globo/ Yahoo Creative Commons License.
Known for their elaborate performances Viradouro will be a school to watch out for, photo of O Globo/Yahoo Creative Commons License.

Next on Sunday is Unidos da Tijuca, with the theme “É Segredo” (It’s a Secret). The artist behind this enredo is Paulo Barros, famous for making revolutionary Carnival experiences. The Rainha is Adriane Galisteu, a famous TV presenter, who used to date Ayrton Senna, and will be followed by two doctors, as she is three months pregnant.

Monday will begin with Mocidade Independente, with the enredo: “Do Paraíso de Deus ao Paraíso da Loucura, Cada um Sabe o que Procura” (From God’s Paradise to Crazy Paradise, Everyone Knows What They are Looking for), followed by Porto da Pedra. The school from São Gonçalo will talk about fashion with the theme “Com Que Roupa… Eu Vou? Pro Samba Que Você me Convidou?” (What Do I Wear to the Samba You Invited Me To), which is a verse from a famous samba by Noel Rosa. Watch out for their Rainha, a funk singer who is very comfortable taking her clothes off.

A float from the Mangueira school, photo courtesy of carnival service/Yahoo Creative Commons License.
A float from the Mangueira school, photo courtesy of carnival service/Yahoo Creative Commons License.

The third school on Monday is going to be Portela. The traditional white and blue will defend “Derrubando Fronteiras, Conquistando a Liberdade, o Rio de Paz em Estado de Graça” (Tipping Borders, Conquering Freedom, Rio of Peace in a State of Grace). Not a very specific enredo, but they will focus on issues of technology and digital inclusion in Rio.

Grande Rio is fourth to come on Monday at Marquês de Sapucaí. Their enredo, “Das Arquibancadas ao Camarote Nº1 ‘Grande Rio’ de Emoção Na Apoteose do Seu Coração”, is hard to translate and means something like “From the Popular Seats to the VIP Area (Camarote number one), a Big River of Emotion at the Apotheosis of Your Heart”.

This theme was very controversial as they are explicitly speaking of their sponsors, a famous beer company that has a “camarote” (VIP area) where all famous go to see the parade and, of course, to be seen. If you see a group wearing the same red t-shirt, be sure they are going to this camarote, as the shirt is the ticket to get in.

There are the other samba schools not mentioned above of course, and for a complete listing of the schedule please see Rio-Carnival.net.

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