Bahian Carnival

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Bahian Carnival
Bloco da camisinha circuito Campo Grande Salvador.jpg
Carnival parade in Salvador, Brazil
Also called "The biggest carnival in the world"(Portuguese: O maior carnaval do mundo)
Type cultural, religious
Significance Celebration prior to fasting season of Lent.
Celebrations Parades, parties, open-air performances
Begins Thursday before Ash Wednesday (52 days to Easter)
Ends Ash Wednesday noon (46 days before Easter)
2014 date February 27-March 5
2015 date February 12-February 18
2016 date February 4-February 10
Duration 6 days
Frequency annual
Related to Carnival, Brazilian Carnival, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Micareta
Barra-Ondina Circuit, one of the tracks where music groups sing above the trio elétrico in Salvador, Bahia

Bahian Carnival (Portuguese: Carnaval baiano) is the annual carnival festival celebrated in the Brazilian state of Bahia, mainly in its capital, Salvador. The event lasts officially for six full days: it starts on a Thursday, then follows the usual five days of carnival (from Friday to Wednesday at noon). The term may also be used to comprise related events that happen immediately before or after the carnival in Bahia. Therefore, extending the duration for up to twelve days.

The festival happens simultaneously in many sites, being the most famous the Campo Grande track (in the upper part of the city), Barra-Ondina track (by the shore), and Pelourinho (the historical neighborhood). It features many different rhythms and has performances of several music groups. The most traditional presentations are the trio elétrico parades, and Afro blocks presentations. Estimations state that approximately 2.5 million people (being 1.5 million tourists) participate in the festivities every year. [1] Economic reports show that the festival has a large impact at Salvador’s local economy. [2]

History[edit]

In 1950, Adolfo Dodô Nascimento and Osmar Álvares Macêdo, better known as Dodô and Osmar created the Fobica, an open float adapted for musical presentations, and the trio elétrico was born. By 1952, the term trio elétrico had become generic, in reference to a truck or bus carrying musicians around during Bahian carnival. In 1969, Caetano Veloso's song "Atrás do trio-elétrico" (Behind the trio-elétrico) popularized the Trio Elétrico sound nationwide. Today, the presence of Trio Elétrico trucks is one of the main attractions of the Carnaval da Bahia.

Organization[edit]

Preceding events[edit]

Starting from the new year's eve, several events loosely related to the carnival happen in Salvador. The most common are the ensaios de carnaval (English: carnival rehearsals). Typically, these are private events with informal presentations from the artists that will perform in the carnival. One major event is the Salvador Summer Festival, a music festival which happens usually every late January.

Other events are more closely related to carnival and happen a few days before this official opening. The major one is the "Washing of the stairways of Bonfim's church" (Portuguese: Lavagem da Escadaria da Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim). Some consider this the informal opening of the carnival. Another event is the nomination party of the Carnivals Queen and King Momo for that year.

Official opening[edit]

The official carnival opening in Salvador happens in the Thursday immediately before the Ash Wednesday. That is, it happens exactly one day before the traditional carnival calendar, on Friday. The anticipation happens for commercial reasons only. The opening ceremony follows the tradition as in the rest of Brazil: there is a ceremony where the city major gives a symbolic key of the city to the King Momo, who declares that carnival celebrations officially opened. Parades happen already in the Thursday afternoon.

The Carnival events[edit]

The parades and other events happen during the six official days of carnival for an average of 16 hours a day. The parade order for the blocks is well-defined to start and to finish, and delays may result in fines. The components of a block have a predefined meeting time in the beginning of their, called concentração English: concentration. After the parade ends its official track, the trio elétricos go to a special place called dispersão (English: dispersion), where there is no longer separation between member of the block and the audience. Moreover, not infrequently the artists extend there their presentations.

Concurrently to the parades happen the informal "abadá" business. There, revelers sell, buy and exchange "abadás" from the different blocks and VIP cabins. Scalpers are present in significant quantity and act freely. The two most common sites are the Aeroclube Mall and Shopping Barra.

Official ending[edit]

In the last decade, it became a tradition that the last regular block to parade is Voa Voa, starting in the morning dawn of Wednesday.

The last official event before the carnival ends is called arrastão English: the big trawler. It starts on Wednesday early morning, and must finish before noon. The recent tradition is that the trio-elétrico trucks go on the Barra-Ondina track, but in the backwards direction. Also, there is no separation between the block and the audience.

Post-events[edit]

The term Ressaca de Carnaval (English: Carnival Hangover) is a general term to refer to the celebrations following immediately after the official end of carnival, on Wednesday at noon. The city of Porto Seguro, in the south of Bahia, became prominent as the major site for the ressaca. There, the parade with trio elétrico proceeds. Another popular site is Morro de São Paulo. However, there is no official organization, and most parties are private.

Carnival blocos[edit]

Main article: Blocos

Meanwhile, the carnaval blocos began to evolve and branch out into various currents of aesthetic, musical, and even religious manifestations. While members of the afoxés brought their Afro-Brazilian religious cosmology to the Carnaval procession by maintaining their African roots with the puxada do ijexá (a rhythm played in honor of the orixás or Afro-Brazilian deities), the flourishing middle-class blocos mostly relied on carnaval music styled on Rio de Janeiro's samba-enrredos.

Then the Afro-blocos emerged with an aesthetical proposal extrapolated from the Indian blocos, introducing some fundamental innovations in the process: parades revolved around themes and music was tailored to fit the occasion. During this phase, Bahia’s street carnaval was infused with the glamour and elitism propagated by carnaval clubs, initiating a slight reversal of the egalitarian ideal.

Bahian carnival musicians[edit]

With the emergence of new Bahian talent who continued to popularize regional rhythms, Carnaval became more of an organized affair though it somehow retained its informality and contagious spontaneity. The success of Luiz Caldas, Sara Jane, and Chiclete com Banana, along with the evolution of Ilê Aiyê and the emergence of Olodum played a part in transforming Salvador’s Carnaval into the biggest, longest, most itinerant open-air show in the world. The upper and middle classes finally succumbed to the Carnaval–inspired ideal of racial harmony and by the end of the 1980s the pre-Lent celebration entered a process of irreversible debauchery. Street carnaval came to represent the collective identity of Bahian Carnaval.

By the start of a new decade, Bahia's Carnaval became an institutionalized talent factory. The success of precursors such as Luis Caldas, Chiclete com Banana, Ilê Aiyê, Margareth Menezes, and Olodum heralded the convergence of Carnaval and commercial music. Slowly the northeastern and national music markets began to open.

Between 1992 and 1993 Bahian Carnaval became the stage for the greatest success in Brazil's musical landscape yet: Daniela Mercury landed the number-one spot in radio stations throughout Brazil with her samba-reggae hit "O Canto da Cidade". Her show broke public attendance records from Oiapoque to Chuí and she became the first exponent of the new Bahian sound to have a television special on her musical career transmitted on a national station, Rede Globo. Mercury's stunning success radically tore down the preconceptions and barriers that Brazil's musical epicenters had imposed on Bahian music with origins entrenched in carnaval. Ironically, Mercury's huge success on a national scale transformed her into Bahian Carnaval's main artist. She achieved that distinction long after having conquered a niche in Bahia and having participated in many carnavals.

References[edit]

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