By Lauren Vita Sgarlato, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Carnival in Rio, also known as the world’s biggest and best celebration, is not just about the massive spectacular samba parade at Sambódromo. A huge part of Carnival is the blocos (block parties), but this year city officials are reducing the total number of blocos allowed, as well as shifting more out of Zona Sul (South Zone).
These blocos, especially the most famous ones in Zona Sul such as Simpatia é Quase Amor, a Banda de Ipanema, Volta Alice, and Empolga às Nove, are growing in size. They seem to have become larger and more euphoric each year, but also rowdier and more chaotic.
Within one week there are over 400 blocos around the city with an estimated three to four million partygoers to fill them. Those that live near the path of these street-party parades have been making several complaints, agitated with the pollution and antics that come with them.
These complaints are not going unnoticed for Carnival 2012, which is scheduled for February 18th to February 21st, but with the pre and after-parties lasts almost a month.
Riotur, the Municipal Secretary of Tourism for Rio, received requests for 476 blocos for 2012, eleven more than requested in 2011, of which 424 were approved. From last year’s requests, there was a decrease in acceptance from 173 to 162 in Zona Sul, 48 to 43 in Greater Tijuca, and 44 to 41 in Barra da Tijuca.
While the goal is to spread the blocos out more and decrease the number in Zona Sul, the older, more famous blocos have seniority and will stay put. Most blocos will be still be granted access to areas like Centro, as they cause less of a disturbance there due to the relative lack of residential population.
Fernanda Neder Martinez, a Carioca actress in Rio, feels it is a mistake to limit the blocos, explaining, “Rio de Janeiro is a tourist city and its Carnival is famous for being a public party. I think everybody loves the revelry in the streets…and it also stimulates the street business.”
Besides the bloco licenses, Riotur has requested a 25 percent increase in portable toilets (approximately 8,000), a 25 percent increase in traffic guards, and a decreased size and sound power on the sound vehicles, known as trio elétricos in Portuguese, along the border of Ipanema and Leblon.
The maximum allowable size will be 4.8 meters high (with railing), 2.8 meters wide, and up to fifteen meters long. The maximum sound power will be 50,000 watts. During a pre-Carnival bloco in Copacabana last February, a 21-year-old student, Camila Nunes, fell to her death from one of the trio elétricos, adding to the criticisms.
Carnival is one of the most anticipated annual moments in any Brazilian’s life, an experience never forgotten by anyone who participates. This is especially true for Cariocas, and the local government is aiming to provide a better organized, safer version of it in 2012.