The Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, popularly known as the famous Rio Carnival, is held before Lent every year. It is considered as the biggest carnival in the world, with a crazy gathering of approximately two million people per day on the streets. It is said that the festival is dated back to 1773. The typical Rio Carnival parade is filled with merrymakers, floats, and ornamentations from numerous Samba Schools which are located in Rio. A Samba School is actually a club or a dancing school, structured more like a guild than a school, which passionately practice and perform Samba, a Brazilian dance with African influence. They are tied together with a strong community feeling and are fervently associated with a particular neighbourhood. The samba remains a popular dance not only in the carnival, but in the shanties, in the ghettos, which are outside the main cities. They keep alive, with fervor and passion the historical aspect of the dance without the influence of the western cultures.
In Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the formal parades are held in specially constructed arenas known as Sambadromes, where twelve of the top samba schools vie for the prestigious championship title every year. The Sambadromes are designed to accommodate all types of social classes, starting from VIP lounges, and tourist sections, down to the cheapest seats for the poorest sections of the community. Each samba school presents a theme which is portrayed by a team of musicians, samba dancers, and floats. Each school displays their alluring glamour in colorful tantalizing costumes and attractively decorated floats with special effects. For the samba parade each school is divided into different sections, known as ‘alas’ or wings, with each wing consisting of 100 members or more wearing the same costume. The “alas” represent different sections of the school’s theme, or “Enredo”, as they act out a homage to a myth, a historical event, or express their view on a social, cultural, traditional, environmental or international issue. The “alas” display distinct costumes or “fantasias” and also reflect traditional samba school roles developed years ago.
Rio Carnival, with its pomp and pleasure, thrill and grandeur, rhythmic songs with crazy beats and a proud exhibition of ornamental beauty of the scantily dressed female dancers, is often called as the world’s largest party. According to the Ministry of Tourism, every year it alone draws more than four hundred thousand foreigners in the country and boosts up the economy substantially.