By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Although Carnival may have officially ended last Tuesday, 48 blocos continued to celebrate in the streets of Rio de Janeiro this weekend. Today (Sunday, February 17th) one of the most diverse blocos and popular year-round performance groups, Monobloco, drew an estimated 500,000 as they paraded through the streets of Rio’s Centro (Downtown) with this year’s surprise guest, the world-renowned Blue Man Group.
The event began at 9AM on Centro’s Avenida Presidente Vargas. From there they paraded down Avenida Rio Branco on their scheduled 1.6 km route towards Cinelândia. The entire procession lasted about three and a half hours, finishing at around 12:30 PM.
Monobloco is well known for its traditional marches and inclusions of songs from other genres, including funk and rock. Brazilian singer, Roberta Sá joined the performance along with Brazilian alternative rock musician Lenine.
This year their procession consisted of four main songs about the sea: “A Deusa dos Orixás“ (The Goddess of the Orixás, about Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea in the Candomblé relegion), “Timoneiro” (Helmsman), “Das maravilhas do mar” (The wonders of the sea”) and “Marcha do remador” (Song of the rower).
Monobloco has a special place in Carioca culture, the big percussion band created in 2000 by Pedro Luís with the members of his band “Pedro Luís e a Parede” (Pedro Luís and The Wall). The group is often credited with reviving the the now-famous “bloco de rua” trend which hasn’t stopped growing – the small (or big) bands that perform in the city’s streets during Carnival.
“It is a great pride and responsibility for us to have enabled lay people to become musicians and often founding their own blocks” Pedro Luis told O Globo.
Also over the weekend, on Saturday, February 16th, the bloco Quizomba paraded in Lapa while in Botafogo the bloco Fanfarani blocked that neighborhood’s street of Rua Barão de Itambi for their procession which started at 2 PM.
“The purpose of this parade is to close carnival 2013 and open carnival 2014,” president of the Fanfarani bloco, Vinicius Crespo told O Globo.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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