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...