By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Samba school São Clemente will be the third school to parade down the Sambódromo during the second night of the 2016 Carnival Grupo Especial (Special Group) competition on February 8th. Known for their satirical parades that address issues faced by Brazilian society, this year São Clemente will examine the portrayal and purpose of clowns as they present the theme “Mais de mil palhaços no salão” (Over a thousand clowns in the lounge).
The only school from Zona Sul (South Zone) in the Special Group competition, São Clemente proudly displays a silhouette of the famous Rio landmark, Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) on the its flag surrounded with their colors black and yellow.
The school was formed by a young football (soccer) club members in the São Clemente neighborhood in 1951. According to legend, the club’s members began playing music together after creatively turning two empty grape barrels into percussion instruments in order to pass time while waiting for their bus to arrive.
The team then became a “bloco de sujo” (dirty bloco), an unregistered, improvisational group. Their parades that followed in the streets of their neighborhood, marked the introduction of ironic themes which called attention to social issues and policies their community faced. The school would later become well known for this type of theme.
In 1961, the bloco de sujo became an official representative of Zone Sul after a successful petition. During the four decades that followed, São Clemente moved up and down in the Carnival rankings, earning them the nickname of “the yo-yo school.”
It was São Clemente’s return to socially conscious themes in the 80s that helped the school to a maintain a more stable place in the rankings. They have earned a place in the Special Group since 2011. However, they have not moved about 6th place since the 1990 Carnival.
During the 2015 Carnival, the school, led by carnavalesco Rosa Magalhães, presented the enredo (theme), “A incrível história do homem que só tinha medo da Matinta Perera, da tocandira e da onça pé de boi” (The incredible story of the man, who was just afraid of Matinta Perera, of giant ants, and the jaguar with bull-feet).
It was a tribute to famous carnavalesco (Carnival designer) Fernando Pamplona, filled with Northern legends from the state of Acre where Pamplona spent his childhood.
Rosa Magalhães will return as carnavalesco this year. Magalhães is well known and most recently helped Vila Isabel to win their victory in 2013.