Posted by: Steve Scherer | March 21, 2010

Geneseo B.P. – The Friday night story continued

When I left off I was telling about how the samba schools practice for Carnivale.  Each section of their parade entry practices together in the samba school.  The building is not big enough for all of them at the same time.  As you would expect, the performance is based on samba drumming, dancing, and elaborate costumes.  There is unbelievable neighborhood pride in the samba schools.  And people throughout Brazil all have their favorite samba school who they cheer for and support, like we do with our college and professional sports teams.

For the final few months prior to Carnivale, each samba school takes turns travelling to “the alley” to practice their presentation.  The Alley in Rio is where the judging takes place.  Try to picture a parade route that is about as wide as 4 or 5 lanes on a street.  On the sides of the route are stadium seats like you would see at a big college football stadium.  Concrete bleachers progress several stories into the air.  Their length is comparable to a football stadium, about 100 yards.  At the end of each set of bleachers is a common two lane city street, then another stadium.  There were 8 to 10 of these stadium bleacher sections lined up consecutively.  Approximately half of the sections on one of the sides were boxes rather than bleachers.  The celebrities and wealthy pay for the boxes.  The cheapest seats in the regular bleachers are $300 per day.  The parades of samba schools go on for four days.

After we got back to the hotel we split up independently for dinner.  I went with our doctor and camera man, along with three of our Brazilian guides.  We wanted to hear live music.  So we took a cab to Ipanema, which was only about 5 minutes away.  Ipanema is a section of Rio, and is also the name of a long beach, just like Copacabana.  A few of you might know that there is a song called, The Girl from Ipanema.  It is a very famous bossa nova written by a man who saw a girl walk across the street in Ipanema.  While in the Cab, our guide’s husband, Gilberto, showed me where this happened.  At an intersection, on one corner there was a building that said, “Ipanema” on a large sign.  On the opposite corner was a club called, Venisius.  He said that the guy was upstairs at Venisius and looked out the window when he saw a beautiful girl walk across the street.  He was so struck by her beauty that he wrote the song at that upstairs window.  “Tall and tan, and long and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking, and when she’s walking, the men around just say, Ahhh.”  Gilberto also said that her identity is common knowledge, she still lives in Ipanema, and her current age is about 65.

We went to an area called the Lagoon.  There is a very large outdoor area in an oval shape next to a large lagoon.  In this park-like area, there are outdoor restaurants situated in amongst each other.  They all have a small building that holds the kitchen  and the bar.  Then, each one has a large seating area that is under a series of tents.  Each one also has live music.  We went to an Arab restaurant that was phenom, and had a four piece band.   Well, the band was great, and played almost all Brazilian music.  I don’t quite get this, but when we were in the cab, and started speaking English, the cabby turned the radio to an American music station, but all the music was about 30 years old.  Then the band played an American song and sang it in English, and it was from the 70’s, Killing Me Softly (with his song).  So I’m not sure about the “space / time continuum” when it comes to their choices in American music.  We were there until after midnight, and the guide had learned that my birthday was on the 20th, so she talked to the waiter and the whole wait staff brought me an Arab desert with a candle and sang a Brazilian happy birthday song in Portuguese.  This was the beginning of my one and only 26 hour birthday, because on Saturday night we flew across two time zones.  I’m sure that won’t happen again!



  1. This entire concept sounds so flippin’ amazing! We should pay the band to come up to the Maple Leaf Classic and give performances! Way too expensive though…..The Lagoon sounded like a lot of fun, yet tragically humiliating. The waitresses always find out about the birthdays. It’s as if they have radar, or are genetically enhanced to perform such a task. Feliz aniversario!

  2. The stadiums sound huge and expensive. I like there choice of American music though, lol, Killing Me Softly.I wish I could have an extended birthday haha. Happy Birthday!

  3. The costumes remind me of Mardi Gras.

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