Rain, sweat and extra security as Carnival fills Rio

Revelry took over Rio's streets Saturday as Carnival kicked into high gear, while extra police ensured the safety of those participating in the event billed as the Greatest Party on Earth.

A light rain did nothing to dampen the festive spirit, serving more as a refreshing cool-down for bodies worked into a sweat as they danced and gyrated in the numerous "blocos," or street parties.

The monster of all the blocos, the Bloco Bola Preta, filled the center of Rio with a motley crowd of up to two million people wearing all manner of garb - or in many cases, little at all.

"Everybody is mixing here. There's no class differences. None. Everybody is here with the same plan, to have fun," said one young woman sporting Elton John-style oversized yellow sunglasses and a bouffant afro wig.

Throughout the city, nearly 800,000 tourists, Brazilian and foreign, were taking part in the extravaganza alongside most of Rio's population of six million, turning the place into bohemian sprawl buoyed by high-decibel samba music.

Although the focus was on Rio, which holds sumptuous multi-million-dollar parades Sunday and Monday, the whole nation was letting loose for Carnival.

In the southern state of Santa Catarina, though, tragedy struck in the form of a horrific road accident. At least 25 people were killed when the bus they were traveling in collided with an oncoming timber-hauling truck before dawn.

The carnage was by far the worst of a multitude of traffic deaths occurring as Brazilians moved around the country for the Carnival celebrations, which run until Wednesday.

Throughout Rio de Janeiro state, 50,000 police were deployed to clamp down on crime and ensure the safest Carnival possible.

Many were in the city of Rio, where this year some 30 surveillance cameras had been installed to improve monitoring, and where police have in recent months been chasing drug gangs out of some of the most lawless slums.

The re-taking of the slums "has improved the Carnival atmosphere a lot," said Paulo, a 22-year-old smiling broadly at the Bola Preta bloco. "Before it was a problem, there were muggings," but now people felt much safer, he said.

Nearby, Vanderleia, a 47-year-old nurse from a slum who was partying before starting her hospital shift, said: "We feel safer in the bloco than at home."

Although the crackdown on the gangs started in 2008, Rio authorities have stepped up their actions in recent months as they try to repair the city's reputation for crime ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

They have launched a clean up of the police force, identifying and kicking out corrupt officers - some of them very senior - believed to have links to violent militias that also operate in the slums, executing rivals and extorting residents.

For the majority of those taking part in Rio's Carnival, though, the attention was on fun, leaving behind the grime and grind of ordinary living for a day-long frenzy of drinking, kissing, dancing and beach-going.

"I'm looking for a girlfriend," affirmed one 29-year-old, Erivaldo, who had been knocking back beers since 7:00 am. He confided to AFP that he was especially interested in girls wearing Minnie Mouse costumes.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

    £7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea