Carnaval: Part 2 (A Closing Parade & A Beatles Bloco)

Jump in the shower and pass the glitter, it was time for round two. 

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We had booked seats in the bleachers for Sunday nights’ closing parade. Compared to Friday night, the Sambadrome was fizzing.

People were climbing stairs into the stands, milling around bars below, flitting back and forth in-between destinations or lining up at the food trucks for hot chips.

The great thing about Carnaval is you can bring your own food and drink. After the bloco at Ipanema beach, we were feeling it.

We began a dry night by napping in each others laps, which was needed as we’d spent an exhaustible amount of energy choosing where to sit. 

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We settled for a front row seat that looked straight down upon the runway. The parade kicked off at 9pm, and neither of us could have fathomed we’d still be sitting on that hard, concrete bleacher at 5am the next morning.

Especially since we’d planned to go to a Beatles themed bloco at 8am the next day. 

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I was unable to move from that bleacher for hours, ignoring much needed bathroom breaks, because I had to see what came next.

The parades escalated in grandeur until time melted away. Bright lights and colour streamed past us for over 8 hours and we couldn’t get enough.

Each parade was a show of float sized episodes that you had to watch until the end. After a 10 minute break, the next Samba school rolled out with a new theme to top the one before. 

The woman were shiny goddesses underneath headdresses taller than they were. They swung their hips and wore stilettos ten times higher than any I saw on our trip to NYC.

Giant, mechanical clowns wearing night-caps the size of parachutes rolled by on floats painted candy floss pink. 

Dancers dressed as television sets passed by in boxes of colour, followed by a mansion-sized jukebox that sent fifties music floating out into the hot nighttime air. 

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Tribal warriors on stealthy legs poured out of the base of a moving jungle to perform a contemporary dance on the runway in-front of us. 

Spectators chased fistfuls of popcorn with swigs of bottled beer and chatted to each without looking away from the runway. 

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At the very end of the runway, after the schools had finished their parade, the dancers gave their costumes away to people in the stands.

If I’d be given one of those, I would of worn it around the house on Sunday afternoons just to relive the moment. 

By the time we left, my butt was numb and the sun was coming up. We stood swaying on the subway home, fighting sleep with long bleary eyes like a couple of tired cartoon characters.

Our eyes looked the same when our alarms woke us up two hours later. We drifted into the kitchen, looked back and forth between the fridge and the jug, and decided on both.

The jug heated up while we poured the bubbles. 

This was day four, so we were ready in a sequinned flash.

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We were one sailors cap and Indian headdress among thousands. On a grand stand proclaming Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Band, , a DJ spun Beatles remixes into a crowd that was spilling over the grass.

We weaved upfront just as Yellow Submarine came on, and jumped up and down mashed between the bodies of everyone screaming out lyrics we all knew the words to. 

The only way to cool down in the 9am blazing sun, was to pour bottles of water over ourselves, adding to the rainbow river that ran down everyone elses' bodies, collecting sequins on the way down and pooling them in the grass below.

We spent two hours at the Beatles bloco before bouncing to a different one, where a local grunge band play on a small stage in a crowded square littered with beer bottles.

From there we hopped to a beach bloco, where tanned people in white swimwear sipped Caipirhinas from tall glasses.

We watched a tiny parade of African men and women in blue and white dress, beat drums and sing in a language I’ve never heard before. They walked up the street, past tweens in designer Carnaval costumes and drunk tourists dressed as fairies.

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On the streets, people in fresh costumes walked past crumpled messes heading home. On the subways, men headed to work in crisp white shirts, sat next to woman with lipstick smeared across their faces. At the supermarkets, nonplussed unformed cashiers wearing flower crowns served grown men dressed as unicorns who’d popped out to buy a six pack. 

And no matter where you were, rogue pirates were stealing kisses before you’d even released what was happening. 

Crazy looked normal, normal looked crazy, and the combination of the two added up to just another February in Rio de Janeiro.