By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The final pre-Carnival weekend began on the streets of Rio at 7AM today, Saturday (February 3rd) with the bloco ‘Céu da Terra’, which paraded through the bohemian hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa.

The famous Ipanema bloco, Simpatia é Quase Amor, Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
The famous Ipanema bloco, ‘Simpatia é Quase Amor’, has been part of Carnival since 1985, photo by Fernando Maia/Riotur.

The ‘Carnaval de Rua’ (Carnival of the Streets) will bring more than 116 blocos to perform in the city this weekend, from the Zona Norte (North Zone) to Zona Sul (South Zone).

On Saturday alone more than sixty blocos will be parading, including ‘Simpatia é Quase Amor’ (Sympathy is Almost Love), which has been a Carnival staple since 1985 through the streets of Ipanema (Zona Sul), drawing around 150,000 revelers.

Throughout the entire Carnival season for 2018, there will be 473 bloco groups that aim to lead residents and tourists in their celebrations. Most will parade through Zona Sul (South Zone), where 128 are held, and the rest will be distributed in other regions of the city.

In general, the blocos emerged in Rio as open, free and democratic celebrations in contrast to the pricey and professional pageantry of the Sambódromo. The blocos range in size and tone, from 5,000 participating in a family-focused morning parade to a 100,000 drunk teenagers mashing against each other.

The two constants are fantasy dress (costumes) and a bloco band, sometimes walking and sometimes loaded on the back of large trucks. Blocos will typically have a planned route, and the crowd follows the music and the dancing as it circulates the city’s streets.

The new program for Rio this year will be the ‘Arena Carnaval Rio’, or the Blocódromo, a controversial initiative of the city hall that intends to gather revelers in the Olympic Park, in Barra da Tijuca, includes seven major blocos, among them ‘Cordão da Bola Preta’ and ‘Bangalafumenga’, and five samba schools.

Rane Souza, director at RS Language Services, is from Minas Gerais but has lived in Rio for years. When asked about her bloco plans she admitted she would be traveling to see her family, but said “If I were in Rio I would go to: Thriller Elétrico, in Vila Isabel; Põe na quentinha, in Centro; Mulheres Rodadas, in Catete; Agytoê, Viemos do Egito, and Boitatá, in Centro.”

See the full list of 2018 Carnival blocos as a PDF file here.

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