The world famous Carnival of Salvador da Bahia.
The true African flavor of Brazil’s Carnival tradition can only be experienced at the Carnival in Salvador. The fervent expressions of Afro Brazilian folklore, music and, dance are brought on by the Trios Electricos, which are motorized floats carrying musicians and singers, putting everyone into a festival trance. Musically speaking, the Carnival in Bahia is way ahead of its counterpart in Rio with the sounds not limited to the samba. Today, revelers enjoy dancing to axé music, which is a fusion of African and Brazilian pop that became popular in the mid 1980s. The Carnival is still a well organized event despite being a street party with security agents and line monitors that ensure the smooth flow of every parade.
The 2014 Carnival officially starts on Friday, February 28th, and the party continues until Tuesday March 4th. However, some Carnival parties begin by early December, giving you a sneak preview of what is to follow. Numerous Trio Electricos take their performances down various street circuits with different musical themes, giving revelers a choice. The Carnival in Bahia hosts some of the top musicians from Brazil who keep the 2 million crowds in a Carnival trance along with Bahia’s infamous African drummers. Right from Carnival Friday, crowds fill the streets grouped in blocos or dancing blocks accompanied by the Trio Electricos and travel down one of the three main circuits.
The Campo Grande or Circuito Osmar is known as the Traditional Circuit which covers about 6 kilometers along Avenida Sete de Setembro and some of Salvador’s historical landmarks. Parades move through Campo Grande Square along the bleachers situated in front of Teatro Castro Alves. Circuito Dodô stretches over 4 kilometers along the beachfront with blocos making their way from the neighborhood of Barra to Ondina. The Circuito Batatinha features some of the more sober parties with percussion groups like the Olodum and afoxés representing Candomble, an African-Brazilian religion.
One of the most famous afoxé parades exclusively for men is Filhos de Gandhi or Sons of Gandhi. This group of dockyard workers keeps up the age old tradition inspired by the peaceful ideals of the Mahatma Gandhi. Dressed in traditional white and blue African attire, the group features some of the best percussionists who parade at the Carnival in Salvador.
While many are mere spectators at the Carnival in Rio, everyone is part of the show at the Carnival in Salvador. This goes without saying as there are three ways to experience the Carnival in Bahia. For a fee, you can join a bloco that consists of two trucks, one with a band and the other with a bar and washrooms. If you want to be amidst all the action, then this is the best place to be. For those who aren’t too keen on partying but want to soak in all the fun, the camarotes are the perfect choice. These are ideal places to watch the blocos pass by in their resplendent glory. However, these come at a price. To be in the midst of all the frenetic singing and dancing, you can watch the blocos from behind the ropes along the route. These are usually crowded but can be an exhilarating experience and absolutely free of cost.