Last night I went to Carnival.
You've probably seen pictures of Carnival before, or maybe some footage on TV or the internet. I certainly had, so I had a decent idea of what I was getting into. Lots of people, parades of costumes, big floats, and what is generally considered to be the largest party in the world. I was prepared for a nice spectacle. What I wasn't prepared for was the massive scale.
Whe a parade happens in the US, you generally have lots and lots of relatively small groups of people. They happen one right after another, and the parade keeps going until it's done. For Carnival, there were only maybe 9 different groups, but each lasted between 65 and 80 minutes. These are the samba schools, and the drummers alone generally numbered over 300 people, the entire cast, with dancers stretches, I imagine, into the thousands. Each school had several floats, each which told a part of a story. Each school chooses a story to depict, then their presentation is built around that. The whole thing starts at 9pm, and by the time we left (there was still at least one school to go yet, maybe more), it was 5am and the sky was getting light. Many of these schools choose themes such as well known artists or authors, but one of them chose "yogurt" as their theme, then showed the impact of yogurt on civilization throughout history. They were my favorite in many ways, and quite a contrast to the next school, which had chosen slavery as their story. The longer we stayed, the more impressive and complex the floats became. Some of the floats had working water fountains on them, not the kind you drink from, the kind you look at in front of monuments and think, "well that's pretty." Having those operate on the float was extraordinarily impressive.
Here, by the way, is the blurb that was published in the program for the Yogurt samba school theme: "From the maternal sap to the balance of life. The school from Sao Goncalo will be telling the story of yogurt, from the early times to its importance today as a dietary supplement. The opening of the parade will be focusing on the maternal care as a source of life and development. The first sectors will present milk as an instrument of strength, faith and progress in the formation of ancient civilizations."
I want to be this guy next year. :)