Carnaval on TV – Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil

Carnaval on TV
Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil

(Disclaimer: I really should give more space to Carnaval, I know; but the REAL, everyday, black-beans-and-rice family in Brazil experiences Carnaval like many of us in the US experience the ball drop on New Year’s – on TV.)

Carnaval Float
Carnaval Float
12:50 a.m. It takes me about 20 minutes to realize this Carnaval thing is going to take all night. You see, there are all these different schools in the Carnaval parade, and each Carnaval school (literally thousands of people of all ages) gets about 45 minutes to strut their stuff in front of a grandstand. So, it’s not really much of a parade in the American high-school/college football/Macy’s sense, where the whole thing is over in a couple hours. It’s more of a now-it’s-your-turn-to-show-us-your-cool-outfits runway show, where each show takes 45 minutes and then you wait like 30 minutes for the next show to start. Not exactly instant gratification.

For months all these schools have been meeting at nights and weekends perfecting ostentatious floats, costumes (or lack thereof), and their walking/dancing choreography. Before each school gets started, the reporters go up to all of the main people and ask them questions about stuff I don’t understand, while I just sit in my folding chair propped in the living room wondering when the real thing is gonna get goin’. Then finally, finally! the first school is ready.

1:10 a.m. Beija Flor‘s music leaders – a gang of about 15 guys in a side staging area – are belting out their chosen musical chant/song thing that they’ll repeat for the next 40 minutes, while the mob of people in crazy outfits – orange, yellow, and white – start their presentation for the crowd amassed above. You’d think hearing a song over and over for 45 minutes would be rough, and you’d be right. But the parade of color is enough to compensate.

One Last Shot
One Last Shot
1:40 a.m. I move my chair a bit closer to the 10-inch screen and look for hot chicks jiggling. I closely examine each of the jewels adorning every shimmying model-hot dancer, hoping maybe the jewel-putter-onner missed some crucial areas. Evidently having similar thoughts, the cameraman zooms and pans and tilts, leaving no stoned unturned, so to speak.

2:15 a.m. The shame of drooling in front of scantily clad 7-inch-tall dancers and the shame of actually turning off such a magical spectacle collide, and I’m caught in the gooey middle. After contorting my face in self-disgust, I decide to give in to my tired eyes and reach for the power button. The room goes black, and I zombie-walk to my bedroom, the buzz of the still-hot TV fading away and the images of those misplaced jewels burned on my brain.

I’ll sleep well.