It’s Carnival. If you see pirates, half-naked people, guys wearing pink tutu and bodies covered in glitter, don’t panic—for a week, this is the new normal.
The new normal also includes litres of beer and booze in general, trio elétrico parades—float equipped with a high-power sound system and a stage—and no fewer than 644 blocos, i.e. street parties including bloquinhos (small gathering of a few hundreds people), blocos and megablocos gathering hundreds of thousands. Plenty of areas are closed to traffic, people are taking over the street.
This is Carnival. Carnival is organized chaos, complete
madness, freedom of expression and respect for diversity. There’s a sexual
aspect to it as well—how many Brazilians were born in November?—and a cultural
dimension as the best of music and dance is featured.
Carnival makes crowds of strangers move together, dance
together, sing together.
It’s fucking amazing, trust me.
To find a bloco, just follow anyone sporting devil horns or
a siren outfit—or considering the size of São Paulo, plan your day with Blocos de Rua.
I started mine in Centro, with the Tarado Ni Você megabloco spilling over Ipiranga and São João. I ended up perched on a taxi stand, swallowed by the crowd. “Fora Bolso!” “Bolsonaro, out!” it chanted.
Then I bumped into Bloco Preto Zumbiido Afropercussivo, an
Afro drumming bloco. I followed the float, mesmerized by the rhythm. The women
gestured for me to duck into the cordon area to take better pictures.
I danced to the music for about an hour as the float was progressing
in the streets of Centro, gathering more people around it.