There’s something about Salvador, Brazil. It gets to you. And I’m still trying to figure out just what its magic is. Was it just the high energy of carnival? Is it the people? The food? Is it the adrenaline rush of the motor cycle taxis rides I had speeding along the road with the sea on one side of me and the live city on the other? Not sure. Maybe all of the above. I’ve been to many carnivals in many places and countries. Salvador has a magic.
But let’s talk about specifically about Salvador carnival shall we? It’s a celebration and includes everyone! It’s organised. It was everywhere. Speaking to Ana Virginia Oliveira at the press office for Salvador Carnival (there is a dedicated press office for the carnival, imagine that), Shelley Green and Claudio, I found out more about the ethos and structure of the carnival. What I LOVE LOVE LOVED about about the Salvador carnival organisation is that a booklet is produced for the carnival, to provide information; the routes, location, bands, artists, stage shows, parties. It tells a little about everything, a little about the bands where to find things, what route and what time the bands will be coming on the road. There is also a version of it online. Unfortunately not in English so Ana, Shelley and Claudio were really helpful in translation and filling in the blanks.
The theme for Salvador Carnival 2018 was ‘My Salvador Carnival’. Ana explained ‘The theme for this year’s carnival sees the people as the owner of the party. ‘A Carnival that fits lots of other carnivals, where each person has its own way to enjoy the party. It’s inside the paid spaces, it’s in the street, it’s fanfare, it’s costumes… it’s the way each person wishes to enjoy.’
Soooo much to tell. Carnival is for almost for a FULL WEEK! No I am not talking about the parties start a week before and then there are two days of floats/ trucks /costumes on the road. There are trucks on the road for six of seven days for masqueraders and the public to follow. Imagine that. Pace, pace, pace! Also, Carnival starts in the afternoon and goes on into the early hours of the morning! So no, 7pm, 8pm lockdown. Are you crazy? That’s when things are just getting started! I was on the road all midnight behind jumping behind trucks. 5am in the morning bands were still on the road. That was life!!
There are three main routes or circuits as it is called in Salvador. The first is Circuito Osamar is in Campo Grande/Avenida the city. I saw some of the best bands there.
The second Circuito Dodo in Barra/Ondina which is by the sea. This is a mixture of Axè, pagode and everything else. All the big Camarotes (private club like structures alongside the carnival route). This vibes on this route is sky high!
The third circuit is Circuito Batatinha which is in Pelhourinho the historical central. This route is more traditional, more relaxed/ family orientated with pretty buildings and structures lining the route.
For me personally, I enjoyed the circuit in Barra and Campo Grande best. I loved jumping by the sea and at Campo Grande I saw more of the Afro Blocos (Bands).
As said earlier, there are Camarotes along the routes, most were along the seaside route. Those are for if you just want to spectate away from the crowds. They vary in size, price and privacy. My favourite was the SKOL camarote which is a sponsor of the carnival. They also had some of the artists performing at this camarote and some serious fetes!
The residents of some of the neighborhoods in Salvador that wish to enjoy the carnival atmosphere near home enjoyed the special schedule of shows in their area. There were other shows and activities in areas such as the the nautical bay. There were free performances to the public by various artists. Children also have their guaranteed space. The Childlike Villa turned into the Child Ball which occurred over two days.
There were different stages for artists of various genres to play to the public; rock stage, samba stage, multicultural stage (where there was hip hop, reggae and arrocha artists), an area in Barra where EDM music and others genres were played.
Listen, there was such variety at Salvador carnival. If you didn’t find at least one thing you liked and enjoyed, then you didn’t know where to look, couldn’t be bothered to look, who to speak to or really you just didn’t want to have a good time. This was truly the people’s carnival. It has to be one of my top carnivals of in my carnival history. In my next post, I will be introducing you to the mighty internationally known carnival band from Liberdade Salvador, Ile Ayie,