Carnival blocks plan alternative parties; check schedule

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A little less than two weeks after the cancellation of the Carnival streets all over Brazil, decisions about what to do with the party and with those involved in it are still debated between the blocks. With criticism of the organization’s management by the government and the desire not to go through a second year without activities, the groups discuss alternatives.

Since the beginning of January, with the escalation of new cases of Covid-19, cities began to announce the cancellation of their street Carnival parties. Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Recife and Belo Horizonte are among the various capitals that, one by one, saw vetoes to the event of the festivities for the second year in a row.

Even before the official announcements of the city halls, the associations of the blocks considered the situation difficult for the exits. “[Estamos] totally unsure about the possibility of holding our Carnival, about the possible alternatives to support the entire production chain involved in the Event”, announced a manifesto published on January 5 by the Fórum de Blocos de Carnaval de Rua de São Paulo, by União dos Blocos State Street Carnival (UBCRESP) and by the Feminine Carnival Commission of SP.

On this Wednesday (19), the Liga dos Blocos do Rio de Janeiro issued a statement reaffirming its refusal to parade, even if unofficially. The position of the entities also agrees that the cancellations, although necessary, also go in the direction of a privatization of the party – which the Disconnect of Blocks calls “camaroteização”.

Before the vetoes, some cities even proposed carrying out the departures in closed spaces, such as the Interlagos Circuit, in São Paulo. It is also noteworthy that the veto of the street blocks did not extend to the samba school parades, held in closed spaces and with admission fees.

“A serious decision on the subject should include the postponement of all types of events and not just those that are held in the public square and free of charge”, wrote the Disconnect in its note.

“In São Paulo, since 2018 we have seen initiatives to confine the blocks, in restricted circuits and places, as was the proposal for a ‘Blocódromo’”, says, in conversation with CNN, musician Thiago França, organizer of the block A Espetacular Charanga from France. “Now it seems that the pandemic has become the perfect excuse to implement this system of controlled entertainment”, he reflects.

The refusal to put the block on the street (or in private circuits) does not mean, however, that samba does not continue. The current scenario, which allows presentations and shows, offers an alternative route to the blocks, which move a whole chain of income and jobs for the culture sector.

“We at Charanga spent the entire period of the pandemic respecting the health determinations and decisions of the public power: we did not go out when it was not recommended, we did not play when it was not allowed. Now, it won’t be any different. We’re going to do what’s possible and safe to do”, says França, sharing that the group’s plan is to do concerts, in the band format. Until the period of Carnival there are already some performances scheduled, although the period of the party itself is still uncertain.

What is clear is in the position in relation to the official realization of the departures. “If the city council decides, closer to Carnival, to go back, it will not work and we will not participate”, says França, remembering that the organization of the blocks is complex, and cannot be done at the last minute.

Check out some events held by the blocks in the coming weeks below:

Charanga do França – São Paulo

Always awaited on Mondays of Carnival in the streets of Santa Cecília, Charanga emerged as a band and returned to the format to perform shows, as it had done in previous years, outside the festive period. Now, in this phase of new precautions with the sanitary situation, the group has adapted its presentations and given preference to open and/or airy places, and that have clear sanitary protocols. In February, there are already four shows scheduled.

França’s Charanga in the Thinking World
Days and times: February 3rd and 17th at 9pm
Location: Mundo Pensante (Rua Treze de Maio, 830, Bela Vista, São Paulo – SP)

Charanga do França at Casa de Francisca
Day and time: February 22nd and 23rd at 9pm
Location: Casa de Francisca (Rua Quintino Bocaiúva, 22, Sé, São Paulo – SP)

Pleases Greeks – São Paulo

São Paulo’s largest LGBTQIA+ block often draws crowds through the streets, but it also traditionally organizes its own festival. This year, the party returns to last year’s cancellation and has a schedule divided into four days, with shows by artists such as É O Tchan, Gretchen and Luisa Sonza. Traditional blocks of the São Paulo party, such as Minhoqueens, Domingo Ela Não Vai and Sorry Anything also perform on open-air stages.

Festival Pleases Greeks
Days and times: January 22, 23, 24 and 25 at 5 pm
Where: Sonora Garden (Rua Comendador Nestor Pereira, 33, Canindé, São Paulo – SP)

Academics from Baixo Augusta – São Paulo

The group is one of those responsible for revitalizing the street party in the capital of São Paulo, valuing the Consolação region. This year, there are still no plans for alternative activities to the cancellation of the party. However, the block performs in the band format, led by the musician Simoninha, in a free samba circle at Studio SP.

Acadêmicos do Baixo Augusta Samba Circle with Simoninha and guests
Day and time: February 6 at 2pm
Where: Studio SP (Rua Augusta, 591, Consolação, São Paulo – SP)

Cordão da Bola Preta – Rio de Janeiro

The traditional street block in Rio de Janeiro wants to hold dances at its headquarters, requiring a vaccination passport, during the Carnival period. But there are still no more concrete plans. “We are waiting to see what the guidelines of the government and the health situation in the city will be,” explained Carolina Salgada, advisor to Cordão. Confirmed, the block has only one party, in the neighborhood of Méier, on February 9, as part of the project Quartas Brasileiras.

Cordão do Bola Preta block dance
Day and time: February 9 at 4pm
Location: Barril 800 (Rua Adolfo Bergamini, 371, Méier, Rio de Janeiro – RJ)

Carnageralda – Rio de Janeiro

One of the liveliest collectives on the carioca party circuit promises to charge with interest the total cancellation of activities in 2021. In order not to let 2022 go unnoticed, the group will hold parties in Rio de Janeiro, and also in São Paulo, in the month of February.

Day and time: February 12 (SP) and February 19 (RJ), at 6 pm
Venue: to be confirmed

Bangalafumenga – Rio de Janeiro

The block is always active with activities and workshops, even if the focus is on Carnival, when it attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Aterro do Flamengo. With no forecast of a return to the streets this year, Bangalafumenga will take their full drums to the stage on Shrove Tuesday. The group will perform with singer Maria Rita, in her show “Samba da Maria” at Fundição Progresso.

Maria’s Samba
Day and time: March 1st at 9:30 pm
Location: Fundição Progresso (Rua dos Arcos, 24, Lapa, Rio de Janeiro – RJ)

Reference: CNN Brasil

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