There’s a block party going down tonight, and we are in for some Carnaval action because frankly, São Paulo is a lot tamer than we thought during this Carnaval season, at least, most definitely, during the daytime.
Now, it’s night time, and Bando do Trem Electrico kicks off around 10 or so up the street and we are there to fête Fat Friday before Fat Tuesday with locals and tourists alike.
Silly me, I expect to stumble upon a New Orleans-esque Mardi Gras scene, a parade of floats and dancers and costumes and drums and overall awesomeness, the best street parties ever, but no, no, here, the costumes are only for the Sambodrome.
Instead, we find the drums and the brews, carted around in styrofoam coolers, a couple of bucks for a brewski, more for a cocktail, and it’s good fun, this crowd march down the street, and together, we are a mob, taking over the neighborhood and stopping traffic, cars and buses the unwilling victims of hours of Carnavaling as the parade engulfs them and their passengers.
Foam and shaving cream and all sorts of confetti fall on our faces and heads, and we are adopted by a Brazilian named Iago who graciously shares his gin with Graham, hoping to get him halfway to Iago’s level of happy intoxication.
The drum lines beat the pace of the crowd, amazing in their resilience and rhythm, forearms engorged with hours of incessant drumming, faces determined and sweaty, and it all comes together, the Brazilian Carnival, for it is a new take on the old, the African slaves’ reappropriation of the European peasant’s folly for the day, when master and serf swap shoes for a time, roles inverted.
The parade marches us close to our hotel, and just like a moving train, we gracefully exit and wish, oh man, we’d have gotten those Sambodrome tickets.