Samba Kaleidoscope - Why Brazil's Carnivals glitter and glow
Viva Carnaval! The shouts ring in your ears long after the floats have sailed past and the dancers and drag queens have stolen your heart. Your feet are still twitching to the samba beat and the aftertaste of partying still hangs in the air.
The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is perhaps Brazil's most celebrated public event, but festivities take place across Brazil. The tradition, it is believed, dates back to the 1700s, when Portuguese and Italian aristocrats imported the custom from Europe. Imbibed with local pagan influences, it became a vibrant tradition.
Samba schools -- community music groups made up of singers, dancers, musicians and performers from the same neighbourhood -- compete intensely to make the most attractive floats for the Carnival parade. On each float is a 'cherry' - a star performer who wears the colours of the samba school and trademark costume. Floats also feature scantily clad and often topless dancers slathered in body paint, G-strings and little else. Most performances take place within the Sambadrome, a gigantic stadium, and tickets are sold out months in advance. Celebrations spill over into the streets, though, and partying carries on for four days.
Enjoy these images - they're no substitute for being there, but they help.
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