By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The G.R.E.S. São Clemente, known for being charmingly satirical, will open night two of the 2013 Carnival competition on February 11th. Well regarded for their tongue-in-cheek presentations of socially conscious Enredos (Themes), they will enter the Sambódromo as the seventh samba school to parade for the Grupo Especial (Special Group).

São Clemente, Carnival, Samba School, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
São Clemente presenting their 2012 Carnival theme, “A musical adventure in Sapucai”, photo by Raphael David/Riotur.

Last year with their theme, “A musical adventure in Sapucai”, they paid homage to classic movies and Broadway musicals.

This year São Clemente leaves the theaters and heads home to address issues on the smaller screen. Their 2013 theme, “Horário nobre” translates to “prime time”, the scheduled block of television programing between 6PM and Midnight.

“Do not even call me now/ I’m glued to the screen/ Ancient love story/ Pride of the people,” begins this year’s Samba-Enredo (Theme Song).

References to popular novelas (soap operas) appear throughout the song. The lyrics, “Brazil has stopped! Who killed him?” allude to the finale of the most successful prime time novela of 2012 , Avenida Brasil.

Broadcast in October, ratings showed that a large portion of the Brazilian population did pause to view the episode where the whodunit mystery of “ Who killed Max?” was solved.

Represented by the colors black and yellow with a silhouette of the famous Rio landmark, Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) displayed on their flag, São Clemente remains the sole samba school in the Special Group from Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone).

With its origins in the neighborhood of Botafogo, São Clemente began as a football (soccer) club. One day in 1951, while members from the team were waiting for a bus, it is said that they noticed two empty grape barrels and turned them into percussion instruments to pass the time.

São Clemente Carnival 2012
São Clemente samba school has often been thought-provoking and entertaining, photo by Raphael David/Riotur.

Shortly thereafter, they formed a “bloco de sujo” (dirty bloco), a loosely organized, improvisational group of participants wearing makeshift costumes. They paraded through the streets during Carnival often using ironic themes to bring attention to national and local policies.

Over time the São Clemente bloco wanted to become an official representative for Zona Sul and in 1961 they successfully petitioned the samba schools of Brazil (A.E.S.B) for recognition as a samba school.

They then became Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba (G.R.E.S.) São Clemente and first marched in the Carnival parade of 1962 as part of the Terceiro Grupo (Third Group) category.

For the next four decades, the school moved up and down between groups multiple times, earning them the nickname of the “yo-yo school.”

It was during the 1980s when the school returned to satirical socially conscious themes. “Don´t run, don´t kill, don’t die: the devil is free in the streets”, 1984’s theme, dealt with the violence in the City of Rio. In 1987 they presented “Masters of Asphalt” a theme about the neglect of impoverished children which featured real-life street children in their procession.

In 2010 when São Clemente presented, “Shock of Order at the Party”, a theme dealing with Rio’s Shock of Order operations, their high scores earned them a place in the Special Group. They have maintained their spot since, but have yet to see a Special Group Carnival championship in their over-fifty year history.

São Clemente is scheduled to perform their technical practice at the Sambódromo on Saturday, January 10th at 8PM and are rehearsing weekly at their Quadra (Rehearsal Hall) on Tuesdays at 8PM and Saturdays at 10PM.

G.R.E.S. São Clemente
Av. Presidente Vargas 3102 – Centro
Head Quarter: Samba City (Quarter number 09)
60 Rua Rivadávia Correa – Gamboa
Phone: (21) 2553-3776
São Clemente website


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