Return, I will, to old Brazil.
March 9, 2011 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Carnival 2011!

OK, here in the US, we have the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Which seems, more and more, a celebration of company mascots. I look at these photos and ask, "Why don't we celebrate life?"
posted by SPrintF (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
floats... check
drag queens... check
midgets... check
nudity... check
38 tonnes of fake feathers... check

Yep, that's Carnival all right.
posted by GuyZero at 4:36 PM on March 9, 2011

Weirdly, I think those pictures seem more real than reality, at least when it comes to attending the parades at the Sambadromo in Rio. The incredibly bright lights in the stadium seemed to wash out some of the fantastic colors, and while it's a hella impressive sight to see, it seemed less vivid than these pictures.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:42 PM on March 9, 2011

I'm glad that the Big Picture lives on as In Focus (covered previously).

NOTE: the nudity doesn't completely show naughty bits - they're covered with bit of fabric and sequins.

For a moment, it thought that the Rose Float Parade wasn't a parade of commercials, but I was quickly proven wrong. There are still "celebrations of life" in the US - but they're smaller, community-scaled events. The one that comes to mind is Santa Barbara's summer solstice parade. The pictures make the event look more Carnival-esque than I remember it being. Instead of being people in amazing costumes, it's a lot of crazy floats. Most are made by groups of friends or collegues over months, but there are some "pro" groups who would come up from LA for a weekend or a week and build an AMAZING float in nothing flat.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:46 PM on March 9, 2011

"Why don't we celebrate life?"

Who says we don't?
posted by zamboni at 4:46 PM on March 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Weirdly, I think those pictures seem more real than reality, at least when it comes to attending the parades at the Sambadromo in Rio. The incredibly bright lights in the stadium seemed to wash out some of the fantastic colors, and while it's a hella impressive sight to see, it seemed less vivid than these pictures.

Interesting you should say that. This summer, I saw a Carnival parade that was playing on the TV screens at a Brazilian churrascaria - it was just a DVD of the event, that was looping over and over and over again, but this was the first time I actually saw a Carnival parade, even though I knew they existed.

I was mesmerized by the OMG beautiful people, the mind-boggling costumes - the celebration of life (as SPrintF also wrote). Of course we celebrate life everywhere, but the bright lights of the Sambadromo, the white walls and the colours - Oh Lord, the spectacular colours - it's like all the world's colours and beauty and happiness got concentrated into that 700 meter stretch.

As much as I hate crowds and lines, and the jostling, and pushing, and shoving that one expects with crowds, I said to myself, before I die, I want to go to Brazil and see that live!

But after reading your comment, jacquilynne, I wonder if I would be disappointed - like having a great meal at a restaurant one time and then going back and the food not being as good as you remember.

Do you think it is still worth going? Maybe I'm better off just going back to the restaurant instead! It sure would be cheaper!
posted by bitteroldman at 5:12 PM on March 9, 2011

I think it's worth going to Carnival -- that was more of a comment on how great the photos were than on how bad the experience was. But the thing about going and watching is that you're up in bleachers with a bunch of sorta drunk people, probably wearing a cheap, ugly hat given to you (and everyone around you) by a beer company. You're a spectator. Like at, say, a football game. A really sparkly football game. The Superbowl of really sparkly football games, even. But you're still just watching and probably from a considerable distance.

There is, though, the possibility of being in the parade. Which is kind of expensive, and possibly slightly tricky for a foreigner, but possible -- you basically need to buy an official costume. Here are the ones my host family wore the year I attended. (I didn't parade, I didn't know it was an option, I wouldn't have been able to buy the multi-thousand dollar costume even if I had.) I think if you want to have the experience that those photos show, of seeing things up close and personal, parading might be your key. You could parade one night and attend on another, perhaps.

But there's also a lot more to Carnival in Rio than the Sambodromo parades -- there are street parties and random groups of people in crazy, if less elaborate costumes, following trucks with bands on them through the streets. Beach parties. Big hotel balls where you can see some of the really elaborate costumes up close.

It's a hella thing, Carnival, it really is.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:29 PM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

The pictures were great and I'd love to see similar video.

The thought that kept going through my head while I was looking at the floats and costumes (especially the Brazilian ones) was how expensive everything looks. Around here a float is made up of chicken wire and crepe paper. Those looked like they took professionals a whole year to build. I'll bet Carnival is a multi-billion dollar industry for everyone involved.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:49 PM on March 9, 2011

I was pleased to learn about blocos -- smaller, unofficial Carnaval groups in Brazil. Fun stuff.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:56 PM on March 9, 2011

"Why don't we celebrate life?"

You, my friend, must never have been to New Orleans. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people here have just finished our own version of Carnival. Sure, in the vernacular it's more commonly known as Mardi Gras but it's still the same farewell to the flesh. I personally just spent a few days in a homemade skeleton costume with big papier mache head [self-link Krewe pics] - celebration of life, death, and everything in-between.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is not all about Bourbon Street and flashing for beads; that's the very worst of it. At its best it is a great reminder of what it's like to be alive and to perhaps celebrate the excesses before trimming back for Lent.

(When you've got that under your belt, come back for Halloween - that's the real show.)
posted by komara at 10:27 PM on March 9, 2011

The incredibly talented Brian MacFarlane wants to take Trinidad back to old time carnival : Resurrection - The Mas - going back to traditional carnival1,2,3,4,5 (from 2010)
posted by adamvasco at 2:30 AM on March 10, 2011

"Why don't we celebrate life?"

People do! Look closely, these pics are not from the Brazilian carnaval only - there's Venice, France, Australia, USA, Latin America etc.

There's even pics of my favorite Carnaval party, Bloco da Lama in Paraty, Brazil. You don't need a fancy costume, people just smear themselves with mud from the mangrove and go have fun in the street!
posted by Tom-B at 2:57 AM on March 10, 2011

Yeah, I'm not getting how the closest USA comparison you can come up with is the Macy's parade. You shoulda been at our parade route meetup last Sunday.
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:08 AM on March 10, 2011

« Older "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history":...   |   A Half-Century of Rights, Gone Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments