By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On the evening of Monday, March 4th, samba school G.R.E.S. São Clemente will compete in the Grupo Especial with their parade scheduled to begin at 9:15 PM. The group will present their ‘samba enredo’ (thematic samba composition) entitled, ‘E o samba sambou’ (And the samba samba’d) a humorous criticism of the world of samba, which is also a reinterpretation of their 1990 parade.
Hailing from Botafogo, the school is the only one competing in the Grupo Especial from Rio’s ‘Zona Sul’ (South Zone). This year, they are presenting a trip through nineties nostalgia and the classic Carnivals of the past with an homage to their highest ever ranking parade, ‘E o samba sambou’ first performed in 1990.
Speaking to O Globo, one of the original song’s interpreters, Bruno Ribas, comments, “In 1990 I was there watching…it really was a fantastic, memorable parade.”
Remembering the legendary parade of 1990, the composer of the original samba, Nino, adds, “São Clemente was a small school, with no resources or anything. And seeing the whole grandstand singing, vibrating with the samba and São Clemente up there, competing with the other big schools, it was really cool.”
The composers of the original song, Helinho 107, Mais Velho, Chocolate and Nino, will be returning to the Sambadrome after 29 years. Also coming back in 2019 is ‘Carnavelsco’ (Carnival Designer) Jorge Silveira, who masterminded the school’s 2018 parade. They will be hoping to better their 1990 result, when the school reached sixth place in Grupo Especial, their current highest result.
Speaking to Srzd, Renato Almeida Gomes, the president of São Clemente, comments on the school’s aims for this year’s parade, “In 2019, the goal of São Clemente is to make a parade that remembers and values the Carnival of the people, made for the people and by the people.”
São Clemente was founded in 1961 by João Marinho and Ailton Teixeira, who both resided on the street of São Clemente, in Botafogo. Known for their signature black-and-yellow flag with the ‘Pão de Açúcar’ (Sugarloaf Mountain) in its centre, the school has earned many nicknames over the years from Carnival aficionados, such as the ‘PT of samba’ (Workers’ Party of samba) due to their politically infused approach during the eighties, and the ‘escola ioiô’ (yo-yo school) for their sometimes precarious movements up and down the leagues.
However, the twenty-first century has seen the school’s fortunes improve, with São Clemente being crowned champions of Série A (Access Group) twice, in 2003 and 2007, as well as remaining in Grupo Especial for nine consecutive years (and counting) – their current best record by far.