So this was as close to Carnival as I got...
We actually weren't able to get tickets to Carnival, but we had so much fun on this trip regardless. I'll admit, in my sleep deprived state, when I discovered we wouldn't be attending the parade, I almost shed a tear. I had such high expectations and had been bursting with excitement all week. But, as I mentioned before, the hospitality of Brazilians is unrivaled. A few of them took us out, and of course, we had an amazing night.
We started off hanging out in the upstairs part of a simple bar. When searching for a somewhere to commit to, our only requirements were that the place serve beer and tequila. Easy game. A few shots in, we heard a commotion coming towards us from down the street. Within minutes, the streets were filled with celebration. It was an impromptu parade, an unexpected treat that absolutely made our nights.
After too many drinks, rare meet, and broken glasses, the group departed from the bar. Almost everyone went back to the hotel, but Donnie Peters and I decided to take up Felipe Ramos' offer to head down to Sambadromo to try and find a way into Carnival. Tequila gives me balls of steel, so of course I said yes.
The vibe, sights, and sounds were just what I expected. We found samba schools, cluttered together, practicing for their big moment in the parade. Drum beats bounced around in the air, and the remains of extravagant costumes were littered all over the streets. I may have picked up a few and tried them on, no big deal. Felipe fought tooth and nail to try to get us in (he of course, already had a pass), but it wasn't meant to be. I was still deliriously happy getting to see just a glimpse of it.
We compiled footage Felipe collected the night before, some of Daniel Negreanu's footage from that night from inside Carnival, and the footage I got.
One thing is for sure, I'm definitely going back again... this time with tickets!
Every year, an entire nation postpones their normal, everyday lives to throw themselves whole heartedly into a week-long collective celebration for Carnival. Brazilians call it, "The Greatest Show on Earth." The rest of the world refers to it as, "The Biggest Party in the World." I want to call it, "The Party I'm so Excited for that I Almost Pee My Pants Every Time I think About it." Too much?
Last year, after winning a torturous battle against a Murphy's Law-inflicted situation with getting a Brazilian Visa, I came to Sao Paul to cover the LAPT event. It took place two weeks before Carnival, so unfortunately, staying to see it was out of the question. Lynn and I expressed to our Brazilian friends how gutted we were to miss their most celebrated holiday by just a week (We like to party). Andre Akkari and Felipe Ramos (they also like to party) told us that the next best thing is to watch a Carnival Samba School rehearsal. For those of you who aren't familiar with Carnival, every year, Samba schools from around the city compete for a very prestigious championship trophy. The parade and competition are the main attractions of the entire celebration. When they suggested this, I imagined a confined dance studio, a small group of dancers, and an instructor overseeing the production.
"Are you sure they'll let us in?" I asked.
"Of course. It's like a big party. I'll get us a VIP section," said Akkari.
Party? VIP section? SURE!!! (Did I mention, we like to party?)
Akkari and Ramos took the PokerNews crew to the Imperio da Casa Verde samba school. We arrived early, feeling unsure, out-of-place, and completely unprepared for what was to come. Instead of a small studio, we entered an enormous gymnasium with a stage, high ceilings, and a bar. Patrons were scattered about, but the place was far from full. We made our way upstairs to a sectioned-off balcony area. As the Schin's flowed (the local beer), so did the people into the gym. Before we knew it, we were in the midst of a full-blown, blood pumping, sweaty, passionate samba party. I couldn't have predicted just how electric the atmosphere would be at a mere rehearsal. It turned out to be one of the best nights I've ever had.
As you can see, there was a lot of alcoholic beverages consumed that night. We laughed, gave way too many high-fives to be considered cool, embraced in drunken hugs, and clumsily samba-ed our way through the night. I fell in love with Brazil and its people. Everyone welcomed us with uninhibited open arms, and full-heartedly shared with us their passionate love for dance, music, and Carnival. I savored every moment, with the notion in mind that I'd likely never get to experience anything like it again. One year later, I'm so happy and incredibly lucky to be back. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I have the best job in the world. I can't wait to report what the actual Carnival is like. Stay tuned...
I decided to take a few days off poker because of my downswing which gave me time to do something I've been wanting to for awhile... I made my first YouTube video!!! It was actually a lot of work because I'm new to editing videos. I thought you guys might like it. If you do, please share/subscribe/like it
Also, if the topic of the Friend Zone hits home, I wrote in more detail about it on my personal blog. Let me know what you think of the vid!