Carnaval in Salvador da Bahia - The biggest Street Party in the World
The state of Bahia is said to be the
birthplace of Carnival in Brazil. However, in Salvador the phenomenon of samba schools and a parade is unknown. In Salvador, the centre of attention is the so called
Trio Elétrico, creating the biggest street party in the world, according to the Guiness Book of Records.
Trio Elétrico at the Street Carnival of Salvador
The Trio Elétrico are the Masters of Ceremony of a bloco (themed dance group), standing on a huge truck playing loud Axé music (a fusion of all kinds of styles, like Forró, Frevo, Marcha and Reggae).
Droves of dancing people are following the dolled up truck for hours through the narrow
streets of Salvador.
Right behind the truck there is some kind of sheltered VIP-area. This is called the cordão
A long rope is held up by ‘security guards’, making it a circle in order to create an artificial, moving ‘dance floor’. The cordão distinguishes the respective bloco in Salvador. In order to be in, you have to buy a T-Shirt, called abadá. This is somehow the bloco uniform and identifies you as a ‘VIP’ who is allowed to be in the rope guarded area.
Everyone outside the rope is called pipoca, meaning 'popcorn'. Note that some ‘pipoca’ are not too happy with this micro class system and will do whatever they can to harass people within the roped-off area; Salvador social problems in a nutshell...
Blocos usually use one of the three designated circuits in the city of Salvador.
The Pelourinho (in downtown, involves usually smaller, more traditional groups called Afoxés), Osmar (through the narrow streets of the suburb Campo Grande) and Dôdo (through the streets of the seaside suburbs Barra and Ondina).
View from a Trio Elétrico - Salvador Street Carnival
Carnival in Salvadoralways attracts the biggest names in Brazilian showbiz, who perform at designated stages throughout the city. One of the highlights is the closing ceremony on Ash Wednesday night at the Castro Alves Square. All blocos gather here for a huge final rave.
Warning: Carnival in Salvador is not for the faint-hearted and claustrophobics. When you participate in the blocos, you will sometimes end up in narrow streets where you cannot move freely at all; you have to move where the masses dictate you to move.
In the stampede it is possible you get harassed, pickpocketed or groped. Despite the event is heavily policed, these are things to keep in mind while planning to attend Carnaval in Salvador (as well as other cities to a lesser extent).
Salvador Carnivalmore conveniently, you may consider to position yourself on grandstands along the streets, watching the merrymaking mayhem from a certain distance. You will find these so called camarotes especially along the Campo Grande circuit. Expect to pay entry though, best is arranging tickets before Carnaval. The tourist agencies in Salvador might be of help here.
If you do want to participate in the Salvador streets themselves, your safest bet is to join a bloco and buy your abadá (bloco outfit) in order to be inside the roped-off area. This privilege can be pricey though, especially with the most popular blocos. As mentioned before, even within the ‘VIP-area’ you should expect harassment from the outside crowd and it is also quite a hassle to pick up your abadá.
More safety advice Carnaval