What most tourists and visitors don’t realize is the mantra that most dancers and street bands live by during the Rio Carnival: always prepare to parade.
Sure, you’ve watched a televised version of the Carnival or maybe even up close at the Sambadrome, but you can’t even begin to grasp the amount of preparation involved and the physical strain that the humid climate and all-day dancing can do to your body.
The Carnival after all is a celebration of life. A momentary pass as the month-long sacrifice during the Lenten Season draws near.
When marching before thousands of spectators and millions more watching worldwide, the samba schools know that choosing the right costume can be the difference between being hailed the champ or going home empty handed. The judges scattered all around the Sambadrome give due points to the creativity of the costumes in relation to the chosen theme.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the participating samba schools already start to choose their costumes for next year even before they could finish the hour-long march at the Sambadrome in front of thousands. If you participate, you will be find yourself in the “wing.”
While that might not sound imposing, there are actually 200 participants for each wing. People who are directed to dance beside the float all wear the same costume.
If you want to stand out, however, you can dance on the float but you do have to purchase a more elaborate costume that is still consistent with the school theme. Make sure to place your order well ahead of time so you can make alterations if necessary.
Also when you prepare to parade, make sure you get a lot of exercise beforehand because the carnival is a test of stamina just like it is of skill. Prepare to Parade: Part of the Whole For every successful samba school, there’s an active community behind it.
The relationship between the school and the residents surrounding it is very deep: from raising the funds, preparing the costumes, building the floats, or even volunteering to be the security cordon during practices.
If you want fun but still perfect your steps, consider joining samba nights so you can practice your moves with the whole community dancing the samba with you.
The practices continue through the night but you will hardly feel the exhaustion as you feed off the energy of the crowd. During the culminating parade at the Sambadrome on Carnival Sunday and Monday, the call time for participants is usually two hours before the start of the march.
The school is given 15 minutes for the final warm up at the “concentration” and this is the perfect time for you make minute changes to your costume and ask for clarifications regarding your dance steps as you finally prepare to parade.