By Bruno de Nicola, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Pink and Green are the colors that represent the Estação Primeira de Mangueira, Rio de Janeiro’s most famous and infamous Samba School, home of many Brazilian music idols and TV celebrities.
Certainly the most glamorous and advanced, the “Gremio” Mangueira is a very traditional institution that attracts Cariocas from any social class, especially because of its strong influence over Samba history. The school lays at the feet of the Morro da Mangueira, a renowned Favela, yet it offers a perfectly safe environment for whoever wants to join a frenetic uncontainable Saturday night party.
The Estação Primeira de Mangueira is not just a Samba School, its a business and a brand that stretches out to several channels: like the kiosks you will find on the ‘Calçadão’ of Copacabana Beach. Its a ‘company’ that has also gone through a few dark moments in history, particularly when the Brazilian media exposed its connections with ‘Bookie Mobsters’ and drug dealers in 2008.
80 years of tradition back the 17 times Sambodrome Champion Mangueira, who’s symbol is a Surdo (Traditional Samba Bass Drum) with a wreath of bay leaves. Over the years many famous samba writers and singers built their music careers within the walls of the ‘Quadra da Magueira’ (Mangueira’s Dance hall); today many celebrities support and attend the Samba School activities.
Among the ‘Mangueirenses’ are samba authors Cartola and Jamelão, who sang tunes for the school from 1949 till 2006, and international celebrities such as the tropicalists Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Maria Bethania. Even Diego Armando Maradona considers himself to be a Magueira fan.
Magueira nights are really special, exciting events. The drum beat and the beautiful dancing bodies, along with the partying crowd are all supported by a truly advanced infrastructure. The school’s facility, called Palacio do Samba, is state of the art in technology and air conditioning, with its opening rooftop and its water spraying fans: ‘Mangueirenses’ keep cool as they dance beneath the stars.
Mangueira’s engines are marching full speed towards the 2010 Carnival. Every Saturday the ‘ensaios’ (rehearsals) go on all night long. This year’s ‘enredo’ (theme) for the Sambodrome contest is: Mangueira è música do Brasil (Magueira represents Brazilian music), a cruise through Brazilian music history.
The Samba soundtrack has already been selected and the school is now recruiting people for the Carnival parade, that will occur on February 15th. Costumes are already being sold, the cheapest ones cost around R$500 (US$260), enter Mangueira’s site at www.mangueira.com.br to gather further information and taste a bit of Carnival history. School Director, Ivo Mereilles, welcomes “whoever is willing to win the carnival contest”.
The Estação Primeira de Mangueira has a very busy agenda in November, full of amusing and exiting events for its fans. Among them are: the school rehearsal on the 7th, the drum section rehearsal on the 11th, the Mangueira ‘Feijoada’ (Traditional social meal) on the 14th and again school rehearsals on the 14th, the 21st and the 28th.
The Palacio do Samba, in São Cristóvão, is easy to reach and not too far from the Zona Sul area. Take a taxi, from Copacabana or Ipanema it should cost around R$25, or €$10 or US$13.
For more information about schedules and transportation, visit the official www.mangueira.com.br.