As far as I can tell, the form of Carnaval here works like this.
Anyone who wants to forms a ‘bloco’, a parading group. They come up with whatever they want to do, but a bloco usually includes a marching band playing funky local rhythms, some great costumes, a big sign telling everyone what they’re about, and some kind of story that they all share.
In their allotted space and time, organized by the government, the bloco gets together and warms up. This seems to take a couple of hours and involves having a great big party together, with whichever onlookers come and go. The onlookers don’t matter here: it’s all about the team and their energy.
When they’re hot, they start parading around. Yesterday the parading started organized and ended up totally chaotic, with blocos crashing into other blocos, battles for power with the strongest veering through while the weaker disintegrated, joined in with the stronger as it passed, then regrouped their parade afterwards.
In this stage onlookers are important and there’s no barrier and only the very occasional policeman so you get swept along and away with the bloco.
In some cases there’s some kind of culmination, like a short stage performance of each group. In other cases people just wander around with their bring-your-own-party blocos and the city descends into wild, chaotic revelleries that go on until the small hours, under the peeling old colourful buildings and the tall trees and the bright stars and the warm indigo sky that takes everything into itself with something of an endless, calm, all-night smile.
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