I was slightly fearful of creating this particular unforgettable experience. I spoke with a psychologist about going to Rio de Janeiro for carnival, explaining I knew how hedonistic the trip could be and how my nature was sort of wild with some chaos thrown in to the mix. He smiled, confirming what we both knew. I booked my trip and went to South America for three weeks, including a night of carnival in the sambadrome February 14, 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Rio indeed becomes quite a swirl of exuberant activity during carnival. Millions take to the streets and of course the main event is samba parades in the sambadrome. Five nights of parades.The parade starts at 9:30pm and it goes until 5-6am. Each of the six Samba Groups have 82 minutes to parade. Each group includes up to 3000 participants.
There are also balls preceding the samba events. Each ball is based on a theme. The one I attended was called Red & Black, the colors of a favorite Brazilian soccer team. I had paid my fee before leaving the US, so had time to shop for clothes that were red and black. In particular, I found an awesome black shirt with red lightning designs.
The ball began at 11 PM and went until dawn. I took a cab from my hotel and arrived as other international people were stepping into the cavernous ballroom; dressed in red and black of course. The music and dancing was incredible, and because people were also getting inebriated the floor swirled with bumping and grinding. I got in the middle of it all, just feet from the stage where along with the band playing salsa and samba, scantily clad girls made shimmering ripples with their bodies . . . I had never seen flesh quiver like that.
The sambadrome holds perhaps 90,000 people and some carnival nights include higher ranked samba groups. I went on one of the best nights: Sunday. I also paid for one of the best spots to sit. The most I will ever pay. Not saying how much . . . but it got me an incredible view where I took pictures all evening and morning until my battery gave out just before dawn.