By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – G.R.E.S. Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, known simply as Salgueiro, is considered by many Carioca Carnival enthusiasts to be in a category of its own, it has, as some would say, a special kind of energy which ignites when it parades at the Sambódromo. Having taken the Carnival championship title nine times, it’s not hard to see why it is held in such high regard.
The school currently occupies 4th place in the overall ranking from 2006-2010, and came 5th last year. They remain a strong championship contender with high hopes of securing its tenth victory at Carnival 2012 when they will perform on Monday, February 20th, at 11:10 PM.
The Salgueiro’s last victory was at Carnival 2009, with the Enredo (Theme) of “Tambor”, meaning Drum. With Carnival 2012 fast approaching, Salgueiro are working hard on their new theme “Cordel Branco e Encarnado” meaning “White Charmed Cord”.
The name is a reference to Literatura de Cordel (Cord literature) which is very popular in the northeast of Brazil. The name refers to printed booklets containing folk novels, poems and songs which were traditionally sold by artists who displayed them hanging from cords.
In accordance with its appreciation of the country’s culture, Salgueiro was one of the first samba schools to display the talents of Afro-Brazilians. It reached new heights of fame in the 1960’s, with three victories, thanks to its exceptional samba dancers and memorable Carnival themes.
The school has attracted many celebrity followers over the years, such as actor Alexandre Vidal, and has a very popular samba hall in Andaraí in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone). The school is based in one of the safer areas, compared to some other schools located closer or within favelas.
The club’s official colors are red and white which are associated with Rio’s patron saint, Saint Sebastian and Afro-Brazilian Orishá Xangô (of the Yorubá religion). Most years, Salgueiro uses “fire” in the parades, which is also a symbol of the school.
The school’s motto is ‘Nem melhor, nem pior, apenas uma escola diferente’ meaning “Neither better nor worse, just a different school” which is humble but clearly not a sentiment shared by their huge fan base.
Once again this year’s Rainha da Bateria (Queen of the Drums) is Viviane Araujo. Speaking to O Globo TV network, G1, the Brazilian actress states “My relationship with Salgueiro could not be better, it’s wonderful. It is one of the best schools I have ever paraded for and it was where I found myself.”
Araujo is distinguished for being the first samba queen to parade using a tambourine, in 2009, creating a trend which other Carnival muses have since begun to follow.
The Grupo Especial (Special Group) Carnival parades officially kick off on Sunday, February 19th, when the samba schools will perform at the Sambódromo. Up until the final weekend Salgueiro will be holding open rehearsal parties every Saturday night, visit the web site to find out more.