By Amy Skalmusky, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANERIO, BRAZIL – An estimated 3,000,000 people are partying in the streets of Rio at its over 400 blocos, or Carnival block parties. With nearly half of the blocos situated in Zona Sul (South zone), residents are reeling from the chaos and authorities are discussing moving some of the festivities to Centro.

Banda de Ipanema, one of the most traditional blocos, attracted over 50,000 people this Carnival, photo by Allbrazil/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Since 2009, blocos have been enjoying a resurgence after falling out of favor with the public. This year saw a 20 percent increase in attendance over last year’s record-breaking turnout.

Blocos in Zona Sul pack thousands of people into tight spaces, for example, the traditional Ipanema bloco Simpatia é Quase Amor over 75,000 people squeezed into an area of around .01 square mile, or three city blocks.

The growing crowds are accompanied by complaints from residents and business owners of noise, public urination, traffic disruptions and large scale disorderly conduct.

“Carnival brings lots of tourists, which is good for the city,” said Susana Xavier, an Ipanema resident in a letter to O Globo. “But like all events that have a big impact on people’s lives, it needs to be regulated.”

On the other hand, Hakan Almerfors, an expatriate and small business owner in Ipanema defends them by saying, “I actually don’t mind it at all, the Carnival brings in so much money, some mess is is bound to come with it. We had something called The Water festival in Stockholm, most people living in there complained until it was gone, then people realized it was quite cool.”

The resident association of the Zona Sul neighborhood of Leblon (AMA Leblon) is submitting an official appeal to the mayor’s office requesting that all blocos be transferred from the narrow, internal streets of the neighborhood to either the beach of another area of town. This in response to the Vira-Lata bloco in the neighborhood, where the expected 5,000 revelers ended up ballooning to 20,0000.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, photo by Roosewelt Pinheiro/ABr.

“The neighborhood only has 70,000 residents and can’t handle that many people,” said Evelyn Rosenzweig, president of the AMA Leblon.

In response to the complaints, Mayor Eduardo Paes and Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello, President of RIOTUR, the entity that emits authorization for blocos, have proposed reviewing the permits along with moving a part of the blocos from Zona Sul to Centro for 2012.

According to Paes, the number of bloco permits this year, 424, is the absolute maximum that the city can handle. “We will not increase the number of blocos next year,” said Paes. He also emphasized that no permits would be given to “commercial blocos”, or blocos run by private companies that come to Rio from other parts of the country.

The existing permits will be scrutinized, and the smaller, newer blocos, which proved to be the least orderly, may have their permits revoked. Also, many of the of the 153 blocos in Zona Sul will be transferred to Centro in 2012, though the exact number has not been announced. Though the transfers will be negotiated with each of the organizers, it is likely that more traditional blocos will stay put.

“There is no way to move Simpatia é Quase Amor or the Banda de Ipanema to Centro,” said Paes. “We will make every effort to try to maintain the spontaneity and improve organization.”


  1. Haha, i love how Zona Sul bairros just get whatever they want…

    Like Jardim Botanico – a couple of random carjackings occur on Rua Faro… so the residents demand… and get… 24 hour police patrols on the corner of Rua Jardim Botanico / Rua Faro. And Gavea – the residents don’t want any more partying at Praca Santos Dumont… so a permanent ‘choque de ordem’ is enforced…

    I agree though, that the public urination is disgusting – and is a whole other issue, in relation to the behavior of Cariocas and their lack of respect. And lack of basic common sense – i.e. beer makes you urinate more frequently… duh..!!! So then drink cachaca or vodka… or is everyone suckered in by the massive Antarctica advertising campaigns..?

  2. @Diego- Because promoting hard liquor to large crowds in the sun is a BRILLIANT idea? Come on, man. Really?

    And what is with the Jardim Botanico envy? If you don’t get it, they should not either?

  3. Anneke – so what do you suggest then..? That people don’t drink anything at all..? Good luck with pushing that idea on Cariocas…

    Jardim Botanico ‘envy’..? Other bairros (i.e. Zona Norte) have carjackings and serious crimes committed every day… but get no support or security from the government. While two incidents in Jardim Botanico… are enough to get 24/7 security..? Come on now…

  4. @Anneke

    You think it’s just that Jardim Botanico gets police 24 hours whilst other bairros don’t?

    The problem of urinating in the street is a problem caused by the city. They allow for a bloco of 500.000 people to pass, then they should have sufficient public restrooms.

    Last year there where 60 public restrooms around Rio Branco for 600.000 people. Considering a one minute leak, that makes for a 1000 (16.6 hour) minute wait between leaks.

  5. Still though, it’s a lazy mentality that many Brazilians (or just Cariocas?) have about urinating in the streets…

    I see it all the time in Lapa – despite there being numerous botecos where you can take a leak without being a customer… and despite the (albeit filthy) public bathrooms… people still prefer to urinate under the arches – so by the end of the night, there is literally a lake of urine…



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