By Vânia Maciel, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As Carnival season approaches, it is time again to profile each the twelve samba schools from the Grupo Especial, or main group, in the order they will appear in the Carnival parade. This initial week, we will look at São Clemente, the first to appear in the Sambódromo on Sunday, March 6, 2011.

Sao Clemente Samba school
Sâo Clemente parading in Carnival, photo by Anna T/ Flickr Creative Commons License.

Founded in Botafogo, São Clemente is the only samba school from Zona Sul (South Zone) that will parade in the main group, an honor which it earned by winning the Access Group parade in 2010.

The samba school we see today began humbly in 1951 as a batucada (spontaneous, improvised drum playing) that the São Clemente Football team played while waiting for their bus. The batucada became a Bloco (Carnival block party) which soon developed into a full fledged samba school in league with the crème de la crème of Rio’s Carnival parade.

São Clemente won best samba school in their division in 1964 and 1966, and then again in 2003, 2007 and 2010, with enredos (samba themes) that have been characterized by biting humor and sharp commentary.

In 2010, the school won the title with a Rio-inspired enredo “Choque de Ordem na Folia” (Shock of Order at the Party) which told the story of the city organization policies of Rio’s mayor. The school’s music and enthusiasm enchanted both judges and the audience.

For Carnival 2011, Rio continues to be the theme with an enredo entitled “O Seu, o Meu, o Nosso Rio, Abençoado por Deus e Bonito por Natureza” (Yours, Mine, Ours – Rio, Blessed by God and Naturally Beautiful). The samba school has a new Carnavalesco (Carnival designer) in Fábio Ricardo, formerly with the Academicos da Rocinha.

Sao Clemente
Sâo Clemente float parading in Carnival, photo by Anna T/ Flickr Creative Commons License.

The enredo’s theme title is borrowed partly from a verse of Jorge Ben Jor’s song País Tropical (Tropical Country), one of Brazil’s unofficial anthems. The 2011 theme will exhibit the splendor and beauty of the creation, history and people of Rio as if personally overseen by Saint Clement and Saint Sebastian.

Like a true Carioca samba school, São Clemente’s logo is a yellow and black (the school’s official colors) drawing of the world renown symbol of Rio, the Sugar loaf, within a pandeiro (tambourine). São Clemente will declare its love for Rio through costumes and colors as they sing their poetic samba tune. Below is the first verse of its enredo:

E Deus fez a maravilha (and God made this wonder)
Mistérios brotam deste chão (mysteries sprout from this ground)
Que a natureza esculpiu (sculpted by nature)
Divina emoção (divine emotion)
O Rio nasceu do sol da canção (Rio was born from a sunny song)
Terra cobiçada, iluminada (coveted and enlightened land)
Gente feliz (happy people)
Menina dos olhos
Do Pai criador (apple of God’s the creator’s eye)
Que o padroeiro abençoou (which the patron saint has blessed)

If you would like to participate in the 2011 Carnival parade with São Clemente, costumes are already on sale. For more information about prices and availability, you can contact the school via email or by calling (21) 2253-3776 & (21) 9982-2063.

And meanwhile, to get a preview of the samba school and its passion for Rio, you can enjoy its rehearsals, which are held on Tuesdays from 8PM and Fridays from 10PM. Its quadra (rehearsal court), one of the most easily accessible from Zona Sul, is situated in Centro on Av. Presidente Vargas, 3102.


  1. In Sao Clemente samba school you will find the worst bathroom, the worst food service, the worst sound.
    Not worth getting to know this school of samba.
    Go and see.


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