As long as the samba schools are concerned, the Special Group is where they should belong. The top schools under this category get the rare chance to be included in the lineup for the Carnival Sunday and Monday.
Dancers, musicians and choreographers spend the better part of the year to give their performance of their lives and grab the championship title and more importantly, bring prestige to the school.
Preparing for the Parade Prior to the actual Special Group parade, the top schools mill outside the Sambadrome within a space known to the cariocas as the Concentracão or literally translated as the concentration.
This is where the drummers, dancers and participants perfect their routine or make minor adjustments to their costumes and props before the final parade.
Each samba school is given just 10 minutes to prepare before they are herded to the Sambadrome in front of thousands of spectators. But the electricity and excitement at the concentration is palpable in the air.
The Independent League of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro, much popularly known by its acronym LIESA, is tasked to organize the annual event at the Sambadrome. According to its own rules, the champion in last year’s completion under the Access Group category will have the chance to lead the parade for the Special Group on Carnival Sunday.
The first-runner up for the Access or Gold Group will perform on Carnival Monday.
Schools that fail to reach the minimum limit of 65 minutes will be deducted points. The same goes for schools that manage to exceed the maximum allotted time of 82 minutes. Each section has a limited number of participants. The percussion, for example, should only have 100 drummers while the Front Commission should not exceed 15 performers.
You can find the details in the official regulation book for the Carnival. Tickets for the Special Group Performances Access to the Sambadrome during the parade of the Special Group is quite difficult. You really have to purchase tickets months before the Carnival.
A major reason is the size of the stadium which can only seat 80,000 people at a time. Because of this exclusivity, the tickets are also very expensive. You can go to the grandstands which are supposedly free.
That’s if you can find a seat since they are already packed with the locals who are out to support their favorite schools. It’s advisable to find yourself a group so you all can rent the Open Box or the Frisa. These can accommodate six seats arranged in four lines that are distinguishable by their markings.
The luxury suites, meanwhile, are very expensive but they also offer the most comfort since they are equipped with air-conditioner, open bar, food and even security. The luxury suites and open boxes during the Access or Gold Group parade can be found on Sectors 2 to 13.