Friday, February 27, 2009


Oi Galera! The big desfiles of 2009 Carnaval have been decided, and the Blocos are still rolling through the streets. Salgueiro won the Grupo Especial! I'm really, really happy because I really like Salgueiro, and I loved their Enredo and Samba this year. They had a really impressive parade, with an ala of guys playing Maculelê and an ala playing atabaques on rolling stands. I think I read somewhere that they may have been from Timbalada? Their bateria were dressed as Ogãs. From Wikipedia:

"Ogan é o nome genérico para diversas funções masculinas dentro de uma casa de Candomblé. É o sacerdote escolhido pelo orixá para estar lúcido durante todos os trabalhos. Ele não entra em transe, mas mesmo assim não deixa de ter a intuição espiritual.

Os atabaques do candomblé só podem ser tocados pelo Alagbê (nação Ketu), Xicarangoma (nações Angola e Congo) e Runtó (nação Jeje) que é o responsável pelo Rum (o atabaque maior), e pelos ogans nos atabaques menores sob o seu comando, é o Alagbê que começa o toque e é através do seu desempenho no Rum que o Orixá vai executar sua coreografia, de caça, de guerra, sempre acompanhando o floreio do Rum. O Rum é que comanda o Rumpi e o Lê."

My translation:

The Ogan is the generic name for [the person who does] diverse masculine functions inside a Candomble house. He is the priest selected by the orixa to be lucid during all of his labors. He doesn't enter into transes, but still must have spititual intuition.

The atabaques (drums) of candomble can only be played by Alagbe (the Ketu nation), Xicarangoma (the Angola and Congo Nations) and Runto (Jeje Nation) who are responsible to the Rum (The biggest drum), and to the Ogans on the smaller atabaques under his command, it is the Alagbe that starts the playing and it is through his performance on the Rum that the Orixa execute their coregoraphy of hunting, of war, always accompianing the flourishes of the Rum. The Rum commands the Rumpi and the Le (other candomble drums).

Here's the link to the original article:

This also explains why Jorge Alabe has the Alabe after his name... I am assuming that is is analagous to Alagbe, but in a slightly different dialect, as Ogã and Ogan differ as well. Boca Rum's name too...

Beija Flor captured second place after two years as the Champion. They put on a good parade (that I've only caught snippets of so far) with a theme about bathing through the ages. One of my favorite moments were consecutive bath ala, with people wearing tubs around their middle, and the people in the shower ala... pretty awesome!

They apparently wet down the pista (ground) of the Avenida pretty good, and Unidos da Tijuca, who paraded after them, had to deal with the slippery ground. Their 1st Porta Bandeira actually slipped in front of the judges and was helped up by the president of LIESA, the organizing organization of the Grupo Especial. Very, very embarassing, and unfortunate, as they count for an entire 40 points for their escola, which is basically 10% of the entire score. It's a high pressure job! It's not unusuall for the pista to be wet as it often rains during Carnaval, but it's a bummer that only Unidos da Tijuca suffered because of their predecessors parade... it seems a little unfair.

Grande Rio has a really cool parade, but with a few mishaps. Their theme was France, more or less (the themes are very complicated and have long names, but France is the jist of it), and they even brought in a bunch of showgirls from the Moulin Rouge to dance on one of their Carros Alegoricas (Floats). Very cool! Except that the float they were on almost crushed someone, and apparently at some point some of the dancers had to jump off and help push...

Mocidade had a VERY mediocre parade, and they ended up 11th out of 12, and almost got bumped down to the Grupo de Accesso, the next lowest group. It sucks that they did so poorly, but I never got too excited about their Enredo or Samba, so it was hard to be too upset. I would have been if they went down though.

Speaking of getting bumped down, Imperio Serrano came in last, and are going back down. They just came back up, and are in the unenviable position of having just pogo'd from Especial to Accesso back to Especial in the last three years. The level of funding and work that it takes to mount a successful Grupo Especial parade is a magnitude greater than Grupo A, so it is hard to get reramped up to get the job done. I thought they had a really nice parade though, and they ressurected a Samba from the 70's that was a really good song. Their Commisão de Frente had four Segways made up to look like seahorses that we doing a correagraphed routine around the people on foot... it was really cool! Imperrio Serrano has one of the best baterias, according to Kathleen Hunt and others I've talked too, and they are unique in that they use a LOT of quad bells, and often have really extensive 3rd surdo patterns that they all play together. I really like them and wish them more success in the coming years!

União de Ilha won the Grupo A and will be coming (back? after a few years down I think) to the Grupo Especial next year. I know basically nothing about them...

In really cool/exciting news, The Grupo B escola that Pauline (from the Lions) paraded with won Grupo B!!! And of course will be moving up to Grupo A next year. They are Unidos do Mocidade, and splintered off from Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel a few years ago when some sort of conflict occured in the Leadership. Not uncommon, but unfortunate none the less. Good luck to them in Grupo A!

In Seattle there was a really fun Samba get together at Tribal Cafe organized by Dick Carlton. There were conflicting times on the flyer, so I showed up at 5 to hang out and talk to whoever was there. When the first time on the flyer rolled around at 6, there was still no one there, and I started to get a little worried (I'm going to have a hard time in Brazil...). I ended up watching a novela, Caminho das Indias, on Globo. At 7, the 2nd advertised time, there was still no one there, and I was feeling a little bummed out. Finally a few people started showing up, and around 8 we had pretty much the full contingent. It was taking Dick forever to get all his gear out and up, so Brandi and I went over to the pub next door and had a beer and sat around and talked and stayed out of their hair.

We went back over and they had started, and I ended up playing tamborim though a few Samba Enredos, making up desenhos em cima das letras as we went. I hadn't played tamborim for a couple months, and it really burned for a while. I jumped in caixa after that for the rest of the night.

We ended up attracting a pretty big crowd of random passerbys, and by 10, when we were supposed to shut down (the police even came by!), the crowd kept demanding oncores. Thoughout the night, people kept asking what the name of the band was, and even asked if they could hire the band for an event several times, and it was really funny to tell them that we were a random group of people thrown together right then. We had a really great group though, with Brandi, Dick, Ben, Vincent, Paulo on Cavalquino, a guy on Guitar who I didn't know, and another Brazilian guy on a conga who I didn't know. Pacifico jumped in for it bit too, playing tamborim.

It was great, one of the best times I've had in a long time. I desprately hope to do it again sometime. My dream bateria is one that ONLY plays samba, and does samba enredo and generally acts like an Escola, and that was close, but only for one night!

After we got kicked off the porch (we were outside in front of the cafe and had to go inside at 10) we watched São Paulo Carnaval and some folks played some Bossa Nova. I had to leave back to Olympia at 11 to get to work at 1am, but the party was still going strong when I left.

I found a site that streams TV Globo the day after the second day of the Rio parades, and they had clips of almost all of the Rio Grupo Especial archived and downloadable, so I have the vast majority of the Rio parades in 3-8 minutes clips. I think Salgueiro's parade got cut short though :(... I'll post some more vidoes here soon, I have a TON of good ones off youtube and a lot of sites and videos to recommend and link to... check back soon or subscribe to an RSS feed for updates!

here's the site for those of you who want to watch Globo:

Time to go practice, or something!

*Correction 2/28/09: The escola that paraded after Beija Flor was Unidos da Tijuca, not Grande Rio.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tristeza nao tem fim, felicidade sim...

Viradouro playing their '98 enredo "Orfeu, o negro do carnaval" at an ensaio technico this year... One of my favorite Samba Enredos.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


In the infamous words of Liz Lemon... "I want to go there"