I never really get how the Rio Carnival works before I went there for the first time last year. I knew they all look good with less but that´s only a small part of what the world´s biggest party actually is about. First of all: It´s not Olympia. It´s not about participating, it´s about winning. Every school of the first league “grupo especial” (there are 4 leagues) spends up to 10 millions Euros on their show every year. So imagine how big the pressure is! The three winner samba schools get a big cup and even a bigger check, the worst two have to participate at the second league parade next year. The tickets for the grupo especial are the most expensive (between 200 and 500 Euros) and obviously the most wanted ones. Six schools pass the Sambódromo – a purpose-built 700 meter long parade area in downtown for 90 000 people – in the night from Sunday to Monday, the other six in the night from Monday to Tuesday. Every school has exactly 80 minutes to show their interpretation of the annual motto, their choreography and the costumes.Try not to buy tickets at the beginning of the parade – the schools are still getting ready when they roll into Sambódromo and it might take some time till you can see the real show. Being in the middle is probably always the best place. The end of the Sambódromo can also be a lot of fun because the schools are throwing their costumes away as soon as they have reached the finish line and you can grab some wings or a feather hat like I did. If you are lucky enough they let you sneak into the two most popular lodges of Devassa or Brahma, the two beer labels who always invite the best looking Brazilian models and actresses. When I was there Fergie and Hugh Hefner´s son Cooper were guests at Devassa, Jennifer Lopez at Brahma.
But to me, the best thing about being at Rio Carnival remains the fact that you can look into the faces behind the masks. Since the schools where established in poor neighbourhood, the people who participate are very different: young, old, black, white, gay, hetero – everybody can become a member. They practice hard the whole year, many do an extra job to save money for their costume. What we see on TV are mostly these amazing bikini samba queens (which I´m not complaining about), but there is so much more than that. I met a lady during the parade she was 85, a deaf man, people in wheelchairs. They all felt like a superstar for 80 minutes. And this is actually the really special thing about Rio Carnival – it reflects Brazil so much. With Cooper Hefner.Lest hier, hier, hier und hier meine Artikel über den Karneval bei bild.de. So wird am Strand von Ipanema gefeiert und so an der Copacabana vorgebräunt. Lest hier meine Geschichte über Rio in der BZ am Sonntag.