Territorio Havaianas


It would be hard to imagine Brazil without its carnival. One could say that this celebration brings together the main characteristics of the country’s culture and idiosyncrasies at their best. The colourful costumes of feathers and sequins, the music and dancing to samba and axé rhythms take over the heart and soul of the streets for a week.

Brazil is synonymous with the carnival, and it would almost seem they were created at once, for each other, wouldn’t you say? Although that would be a very romantic notion, the origin of this festival is in fact European and was introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers when they arrived. The people of the North-eastern Region of Bahia were the ones to make it their own by giving it a special touch, mixing the Western tradition of masks and costumes with Bahia’s African slaves’ dances and rhythms. The carnival turned into the only festival where social classes and roles were forgotten and set aside to make room for fun and revelry alone.
Out of this melting pot Samba was born, the country’s characteristic music and dance which is most associated with this celebration. Can you think of anyone with more rhythm than a Brazilian dancing the samba?

Brazil lets its hair down for the 5 or 6 days of revelry where all the excesses are permitted just before Ash Wednesday. Indeed, the Church turned this originally pagan spring festival into a Christian celebration, now even more dressed-up in the colours of happiness! And the event would not be complete if Caipirinhas and Cachaça & fruit-based batidas (cocktails) were not flowing freely!

The carnival is not celebrated in the same way in every Brazilian city. One could say there are two ways of celebrating: the Salvador de Bahia way, and the Rio de Janeiro way.
In Rio, everything takes place at the ‘Sambódromo* Marquês de Sapucaí’, where over 72 000 people gather every year to see the escolas de samba (samba schools) parades.

Each samba school can feature up to 8 floats! In her beautifully coloured costume, the Porta-bandeira*dances to samba rhythms, proudly presenting the school’s colours, whilst the mestre-sala, dancing with her, draws everyone’s attention to his queen. It takes a whole year to work on a school’s theme for the big event, designing costumes, composing music… everything has to be just right to shine on the best night of the year!
In Bahia, on the other hand, the party takes place in the streets of the Cidade Alta, the upper part of the city of Salvador. If you are more into taking part than into watching, this is the carnival for you! Even if you are not a local, you can blend into the blocos*, wear an adabá* and follow the tríos eléctricos* through the streets of Salvador de Bahia, dancing to the rhythms of famous bands like Chiclete com Banana or Ivete Sangalo. However, if you prefer, you can experience the carnival from the camarotes*, or jump and dance around like proper pop-corn in what is known as the ‘pipocas’, or else enjoy one of the many parties that go on in parallel in the barracas*.

But, whichever carnival you go to, you cannot miss the authentic batucadas*, dancing to the entrancing rhythm of all those drums.
If you would rather be in the smaller cities, but still want to experience a Rio de Janeiro-style carnival, in a sambódromo, try going to Florianópolis or São Paulo. If you think you’d prefer the Bahian style, in the streets, then head for Recife and Olinda. Wherever you end up, remember that happiness is the costume you must wear at all times! For the rest, let your imagination run wild!

Feel like enjoying some music, rhythm, fun and some madness too? If you need that extra little push to get you going, here is a playlist with Carnival rhythms to help you dive-in and experience the atmosphere!

Carnival with Havaianas

Playlist by: DJ Alfonso López

*Glossary to understand carnival terms and customs:

  • Sambódromo: the stadium where the samba school parades and competitions take place. This is where you will see Brazilians ‘sambando’ (dancing the samba) and you can join-in too, dancing and revelling on the bleachers, getting into the party mood if you dare!

  • Escolas de Samba: (Samba Schools) are the groups or clubs of samba dancers. Each school chooses a theme to compete at the sambódromo and then work begins on a dance routine, composing music and designing costumes to be ready to parade amidst the amazing floats on the big Carnival day, in front of thousands of spectators.

  • Batucadas: a very lively musical drum formation and party where one dances to the rhythm of the beating of drums, particularly around carnival time.

  • Boteco: small bar where drinks and food are served.

  • Trio eléctrico: trucks that are jazzed up and parade for carnival with bands atop them playing all along the way. The incredibly powerful sound systems they are equipped with ensure the music blasts out throughout the city.

  • Blocos: The groups that belong to and dance and party along with the trios eléctricos, livening up the atmosphere during the entire parade. They all wear the group’s abadá.

  • Abadá: the T-shirt with a bloco’s customised image worn by all those who belong to the bloco.

  • Camarotes: sort of private cabins, tribunes, tents or even flats overlooking the parade routes followed by the floats that offer open bars, food and dance floors with a DJ.

  • Pipoca: literally means “pop corn”. A very visual name to define exactly what the crowds of revellers do: dance and jump around as they follow the trios eléctricos from outside the bloco’s corded area.

  • Barracas: drink posts around which the crowds gather and form their own parties alongside the main parade.

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