Showing posts with label Carnival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carnival. Show all posts

Monday, February 20, 2023

Night of Carnival

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.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Carnival in Rio

This time of year, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,  excitement builds in anticipation of the start of carnival. The annual event is huge, and world famous. Visitors from across the globe flock to witness parades in the sambadrome, the venue built especially for the samba parades. The samba groups prepare all year long for one night of show and an opportunity to be listed among the best. The events begin on a Thursday night with novice groups, culminating on Saturday and Sunday night with the best groups—winners from previous years. The samba schools that comprise the groups number in the thousands, so that in one evening, over fifty thousand costumed people, walking, singing, dancing or on fabulous decorated floats, will have paraded.

The Sunday night that I went, I took the subway from my hotel, and it was packed. When I arrived near the sambadrome, I walked with the stream of people through the street until I arrived at the gates and was directed to my section. I had paid a high sum to be seated close to the action. Inside, the crowd swelled until about 8:30 PM, when the first group began their long march down the avenue, under the floodlights, amidst blaring samba music. The march starts at one end of the sambadrome, and finishes about ¼ mile at the other end. I was near the end . . . a good vantage point.

All night, the groups flowed past and orgasmic throbbing never stopped. The happiness level was at a high pitch. In fact, the groups are judged partly for the enthusiasm they display, as well as for creativity, skill and artistry. I took hundreds of pictures until dawn, when my camera battery died. The parades were not done, but after ten hours of witnessing the spectacle to end all spectacles, I had my fill.

Enjoy this:  My Carnival show on YouTube

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lost In Adventure

"The poet is a madman lost in adventure." Paul Verlaine

Invariably, lunatics are on some grand adventure or another, and the trail is one that few choose to follow. On February 6, I set out from Santa Fe to drive 1662 miles to Miami, Florida, with my van full of artwork.  After a harrowing day of battling blizzards, iced highways and then rain, my first stop was in Dallas, Texas, where my two cousins, Ben and David live. They are both orthopedic surgeons and bachelors. I am particularly close with David and stay with him when I am in Dallas. For a man who does serious surgery on people, chopping out bones and replacing them with prosthetics, David is very low key, and likes to joke. We easily make each other laugh. He has my paintings on his walls and since they are signed Boone, he can tease people that he did them himself, showing that not only is he a brilliant surgeon but also has a sensitive side. Years ago I made a painting of his two Irish Setter dogs and he loves it. His girlfriend’s daughter recently asked if I could do a painting of her dog, and we discussed a small price. He commissioned me, and gave me a photo to work from.

After Dallas, I arrived in Houston where a collector had made arrangements for me to stop and show her my art. I arrived at her house as scheduled and took my artwork in her home. She showed me her art collection, which was extensive. Then she said, “As you can see, I have no wall space left.” So I packed up, said good-bye, and hit the road, glad that I gave her some worthy entertainment.

I have reached Orlando, Florida where my first art festival is underway. About 200 artists have set up tents on a college campus. Many of them are on a “festival circuit” leaving cold climates to do art shows under palm trees. Except that it has been cold in Orlando and only a few hardy souls go about in shorts. The show has been a flop and all the artists are dismayed. When they hear that next weekend I am doing the Coconut Grove show in Miami, they all breathe a sigh of relief and say, “It is great. You will do so much better.”

Anyway, I take it in stride because THE DREAM never fails to entertain me. Across the street from my motel is a carnival, and every night I wander in it, watching the flying contraptions with their flashing lights, studying the crowds and observing the circus people. Time flies, as they say.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bountiful Harvest

Outside the cottage on my parent’s property stands an orange tree laden with fruit. The oranges are so plentiful that the limbs hang down from the weight. No one picks them, and so they fall to the ground to rot in the shade. Each day, as I pass the lovely tree that is so healthy and has dutifully provided its bountiful harvest, I feel as if the tree is speaking to me, begging me to take its offering, almost as if a gift is being proffered, and as I pass by, I can almost hear myself say with a tinge of guilt, “no thanks.” My parents sometimes eat oranges, but only one per day, and the tree has hundreds of fruit. My mother explained, “when I was stronger, I would take oranges to the homeless shelter.” Yesterday I collected a big sack and gave it to my sister when she visited. When I leave for Santa Fe on Tuesday, I will take a couple of boxes of oranges with me.

Hurrah! After all the travails with my laptop breaking down in South America, I have it back and completely refurbished. What a relief. I have been working on my photos form Brazil and Argentina.

I am like the orange tree, offering fruit to anyone who stops to enjoy it . . .

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Capricious Winds

Since setting foot in Brazil, capricious winds have jostled my fortunes. First, after 1 night in Sao Paolo, I returned to the airport for a flight to Rio De Janeiro, but at the ticket counter was told my departure was scheduled from a different airport. I did not have time to catch the plane, so had to buy another ticket and wait hours. I kicked myself because this had happened several years ago in Milan, Italy. Also, my trustworthy Mac laptop that has gone around the world with me, surviving a grueling safari in Tanzania and being dropped on an airport floor, suddenly quit in my Rio hotel. I depend on it for so much, for instance accessing my passwords and important files, processing photos, making travel plans, writing, etc. etc. It is now in a repair shop, but will take a week to get back because of carnival. This forces me to stay in Rio longer than expected.

I could make a book of impressions from my few days here. This city comes at you from many angles, bringing surprises. Right now, it is crowded for carnival. The hotels, and famous beaches-Copacabana and Ipanema are packed. Samba parades and street parties have begun. Friday night I went to a carnival ball  with the theme "Red and Black" at a famous club called Scala. The doors opened at 11PM to allow an international crowd inside. The big band onstage kept up a lively non-stop beat from the beginning and the crowd steadily swelled until the dance floor was packed around 1 AM. The music reached a pitch at 2 AM when dancers and extra percussionists arrived onstage. Only Brazilians can make their bodies quiver in waves from the inside out when they dance. I t has to be seen. I became part of the throbbing, pulsing mix on the floor, dancing with many people, including some transvestites who obviously were having too much fun. When I left at 3AM, the place was still packed and throbbing.

My hotel, located in central downtown, is very clean and modern, with marble floors and courteous staff. But just outside are the grimy, teeming streets, and on Saturday, the contrast became especially clear when the avenues were packed for a party, mostly of Brazilian. I ventured out but did not see tourists. No wonder because it was a drunken brawl. Some of my refined friends would have expired within minutes. The noise of music and revelry was thunderous, with hot, sweating people almost shoulder to shoulder, all talking and shouting at once. Alcohol was being sold in buckets, mostly by individuals selling from their coolers. Sophistication was absent from the event and barely anyone dressed in costume. I pushed through the crowd for a few blocks while tightly clutching my camera, looking to take pictures. The drunken, blind crush made me miserable. Lines of men urinated against the sides of buildings and the air smelled foul. Amazingly, lovers embrace and kissed amidst all this grotesque mayhem, exclaiming their oblivion to misery. Returning to my hotel, I realized vividly the dichotomy of luxury and poverty.
In the afternoon I ventured outside again to pursue my street photography. Strolling into unknown territory away from crowds, I looked for opportunities. Walls covered with painterly graffiti caught my eye, and as I stopped, a boy, perhaps 14 years old, dressed in some carnival attire came up to me to see what I was doing. We struck a friendship immediately and he posed for a few shots and then took some change I gave to him. Further on, I came to a pathetic group of objects spread on cloth placed along the sidewalk. Nobody was there, and I stopped because the chance arrangement of a few things caught my eyes. As soon as I had snapped a few pictures and turned to go, a drunken black man wearing a blonde wig grabbed me to demand money for taking pictures of his things. I paid him from my pocket and continued down the street, taking pictures of old doorways and walls marked with graffiti. Often, when I make these photos, I try and include anonymous pedestrians as they pass by. As I wandered this way, two young women walked past and suddenly one stopped and turned to me, asking if  I spoke Portugese. I replied "No" and she asked "English?" I sasid yes, and she replied, "I will tell you that what you are doing is very dangerous. This is a bad area. Be careful because everyone is watching you!"

Tonight I go to the huge samba parade at the Sambadrome. Next week I hope to have my computer back and will try and post pictures.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Good Happens

Soon I will be homeless again. Don’t worry; it is by choice that I am putting my things away in my studio and giving up my home and car to be a wanderer. This is my calling, to experience the earth without barriers. I plan to leave Santa Fe around January 7, and first go to Santa Barbara, California. My parents are finding life more difficult because of their age, and I want to live near them for a month. My brother also lives there and has been doing most of the managing for their concerns. I will offer my devoted time to help and support them in whatever transitions they are in.
Mid February I will go to South America. When I traveled around the world in 2008, I lived in nineteen countries but missed South America. To accomplish my goal of taking pictures of people from across our planet, I need to visit this important continent.
Before I left the USA in 2008, I thought about starting in Rio de Janeiro, during carnival. Rio has intrigued me, but also intimidated and frightened me. It is known as a brash, seething, violent, and sensual city. I am aware of those same qualities in myself and I have been reluctant finding out how strong they might be. So in 2008, I started my traveling in Belize.
This time, I am starting in Rio de Janeiro, during carnival when the city hosts the “biggest party on earth.” (See a video) I must experience this revelry and take a thousand pictures. Yes, there will be carnal self-expression that goes beyond modest tastes, but certainly a passionate fervor will also be present. Samba parades will proceed day and night, and for some participants it is the culmination of an entire year of preparation. I am not going to be merely an outsider, but throw myself in the pulse and feel the beat. It is the only way, for then I have stories to tell and pictures to show. If I were to moralize and hold myself to a higher calling, perhaps I would not go. But in the streets is fantastic beauty and surprise. It is life laid bare, my brotherhood, and I crave this. I do not try and tell people to live differently, but I love all and connect, and in this, good happens. (Here is another fun carnival video from 1955)
Certainly, my character is challenged while living free. For instance when I was in Istanbul, I became acquainted with a Muslim who befriended me and gave me a small Koran. He worked in a rug shop and spoke English. I prayed with him in a mosque and met his wife and little boy. We went to dinner together, and in the evening drove around in his car. I became incredulous when he began pimping. “Surely you don’t want to spend the night alone!” I said no, but he persisted many times. This stuff happens when I travel and keep open. But then, I simply stayed strong in my love, and in the end, my friend had to respect me and learned something of value besides. And I learned something too. We made each other think.
After Rio, I probably will go to Buenos Aires, then west to Santiago, Chile, north to Bolivia, and maybe Peru.
THE DREAM will take me, shelter and protect me, strip me of what is unnecessary and be my teacher.