Since the first marches, Carnival has always been the place and moment for social protests. In a kind of satirical revellers were ridiculing and making fun of the town magistrates, their political decisions and financial blunders.
In modern Brazilian carnival the large and famous samba schools haven’t room for and interest in a ludic tone of protest. There multi-million dollar set-up has to appease the public and more especially the local authorities as they decide whether a samba school remains to exist or not. Consequently the big samba schools which run their parades in the Sambódromo, either in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, keep nice and go no further than pay a kindly tribute to one celebrity or another.
Fortunately it is a bit different with street carnival. Street carnival is dominated by blocos or foliãos as they are called, each representing a group of people, a community, neighbourhood or club. And they always attract a large multitude of followers. In Rio some blocos, as Cordão da Bola Preta, attract up to 1 million of revellers when they parade the streets.
Here we find some traditional ludic protests, the way carnival should be. This carnival the street blocks in various towns choose current topics for their parades such as the ‘rolezinho’, the World Cup, Pope Francisco, ludic protests that liven up the revellers. The fun is in the streets, not in the Sambadromes. Not for nothing are the carnivals in Recife, Olinda and Salvador pronounced the best carnivals of Brazil. They honour the old tradition and therefore attract millions of revellers.
Let’s have a look at the carnival parades which hint to the World Cup. Don’t forget carnival protests always are soft and ludic or satiric. Never gross and harsh as the normal street protests against the World Cup might be and will be after the festivities are over.
Leandro de Itaquera from São Paulo
Leandro de Itaquera is a samba school of the second category, which tries hard to get into the top league of samba schools, but they didn’t make it this year. During their parade in the Sambodrome of São Paulo the members, wearing a blond wig, represented the maria chuteiras (maria-chuteira is a stereotype for females who are notorious for their amorous relations with football players), while the float carried a huge replica of the Brazuca, the official football of the World Cup this year.
The 230 drummers set the tone of the football party. As the photos show the samba school was walking under a moderate rain. But this didn’t impair the performance of the members. A float titled “The imagery of the Pentacampeão”, brought prominence representing Pelé as the king of football.
One of the largest floats of the samba school, called “A cry of goal”, showed a huge structure of the Fuleco, the mascot of the World Cup. During the passage of the float, the rain gained strength, but the parade ended smoothly.
But back to the street.
Bloco “Céu na Terra”
Céu na Terra (Heaven on Earth) took to the streets of Santa Teresa early Saturday. The carnival block had a protest against the organisation of the World Cup in Brazil. When the percussionists made a quick stop between marches, revellers sang in chorus “There will not be a World Cup, there will not be a Wold Cup”, while the musicians accompanied the protest in batucada rhythm.
(Batucada is a sub-style of samba and refers to an African influenced Brazilian percussive style, usually performed by an ensemble, known as a Bateria. Batucada is characterized by its repetitive style and fast pace.)
The carnival bloco is one of the most colourful of Rio and brought two giant puppets in (Brazilian football) green and yellow colours ahead of the troupe of musicians.
Bloco “Volta, Alice”
This group of revellers also decided to enjoy the sphere around the World Cup football party, but representing the audience that stays outside the football field. The tourists from Brasilia, inspired by the World Cup, wore a costume of Maria-Chuteira.
The football shirts of the Brazilian team also served to inspire the protests during the block’s parade. Reveller Pedro Ribeiro and small Luísa Bassini, in costumes of football players, wished that Carnival and even a playground could be “Standard Fifa”. According to Peter, which leaves more to be desired in Rio are the services offered by the municipality:
– The most annoying is the trash. There need to be a better service collecting the trash when the blocks pass. There is too much dirt in the street.
Bloco “Confraria do Pasmado”
The Confraria do Pasmado (Confraternity of Astonishment), parading in Vila Madalena joined the protests. “This year’s theme is retrospective as well, but the main themes are the World Cup and the street protests”, says Eduardo Piagge.
During carnival the hard protests are hidden in the closet. While many a town is, in honour of the year of the World Cup in Brazil, decorated in the traditional football colours yellow and green, the soft protests of the blocos animate the revellers.
In the meantime there are some who really worry about what will happen with, before and during the World Cup. “All protests are valid. But if there is no World Cup, you better close the country. This event was agreed upon seven years ago”. This was the emphatic response of Andrés Sanchezà, former president of Corinthians, to the question what he thought about carnival revellers chanting the slogan “There will be no World Cup”.