Last year we joined the school Tom Jobim at the Sambadrome dressed as 'British Railway Workers' and danced (not sure if we could really call it dancing...) for about 4 hours straight! This year, the idea of dancing all night and then having a toddler and a baby to look after all day is not so appealing... we have booked a trip to Colombia to visit some friends but are only flying on the Monday (carnival starts on Friday 17th) as the prices for flights were extortionate. So in the lead-up to Carnival this year I really want to experience some of the samba schools instead, where the real parties apparently are. The INC has just put out it's invite to Vai-Vai on Sunday 29th (I've copied it below) but I think we'll go and find one in Vila Madalena to check out one Sunday night.
It takes blood, sweat and tears – plus lots of fun, partying and high spirits – to create the amazing spectacle that is Carnival at the Sambódromo. Even better than the main event, for many, are the lively parties that comprise the samba school rehearsals, which take place all over the city in the weeks and months leading up to Carnival. They're a chance for the participants to learn the song (enredo) for that year's parade, for the drummers to get in step, for the dancers to crank up the heat, and for the neighbourhood in general to start celebrating.
The basics Don't let the term 'rehearsal' confuse you – a samba school rehearsal is as much a party as a chance for the school to practice its song and its moves. Everyone's welcome – get involved if you know some samba steps, or just enjoy the party. They can be crowded, sometimes slightly chaotic events so take care to work out how you're getting home beforehand, and leave valuables at home.
With a mostly outdoor practice site squeezed between high-rises in Bixiga, 82-year-old Vai-Vai is arguably the city’s best-known samba school. Last year’s Carnival champs, they hope to maintain the title at the Sambódromo this year with a theme honouring women.
Come with a group of INC members to enjoy the cadence of the drums, watch beautiful people doing the samba, taste flavorful food, get a preview of this year's costumes for Carnaval and shop for Vai-Vai souvenirs.
Admission: R$20 per person in cash at the door.
Address: R. São Vicente, 276 - Bela Vista, São Paulo, 01314-010, Brazil