Camillo and I went downtown Nova Friburgo last night to see the opening of CarNAval! 2010. As is typical here, the prefecture website said, ‘starts at 5pm’, and listed the 3 blocos and the order and the times they were to come down the main street, at 6 they closed the street to major traffic, at 6:15 they walked down the street asking people to move their cars and a little after 6:30 you could here the drums coming.
WARNING: click to start this video and be ready to adjust your sound.
By 6:45 the first bloco had come through and the street began to fill with the young, the old, the bored and the enthused. And we waited, and waited and the people walked – up and down – up and down, saying hello to friends, seeing and being seen. and we waited. At 7:45 the sound of drums coming - no one left the street, no one moved out out of the way – there was mass chaos.
A note of explanation – the blocos are supposed to represent the ‘normal people’, the people from the neighborhoods. They used to be on Tuesdays (fat Tuesday if your in New Orleans) – the REAL Carnaval - but as the cities become more focused on drawing tourists to ‘their towns’ the whole of Carnaval has expanded – till now it really gets going in Friburgo on Friday nights and keeps people from doing anything productive until Thursday mornings.
The first bloco was a traditional – men dressed as women - march. I was surprised at the number of teenagers that were dressed in ‘drag’ and really enjoying themselves. I can’t imagine the young men of middle America, 1960s version, participating with such enjoyment. The second bloco, ‘bloco das piranhas’, which loosely translated piranha to ‘prostitutes’ – means march of the prostitutes? – anyway I couldn’t tell the difference between the two groups. Maybe I wasn’t understanding. The whole purpose of all of this though (I think) was participation – those standing on the sidelines (myself included) taking pictures or just LOOKING – missed the point – to really enjoy this ‘car NAV al’ you have to go out on the street and strut your stuff.
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