2010 Street bands Brazil Carnival, Blocos Carnaval – Samba Glossary

Carnival Block - Blocos de Rua

 Carnival Blocks, Rio Street Bands, Blocos de Carnaval, “Blocos de Rua” or simply “blocos” – ( pronounced blo´ku in Portuguese) are some of the names given to “free for all” popular groups of revelers & merry-makers in Rio de Janeiro.  As you will see below, Brazil´s street parties have been revitalized, and today most of the young, beautiful and lively Cariocas remain in Rio and take part in some of the 450 "Blocos de Rua".  Below you will see a fresh new video of a new generation Carnival band in Rio called "Orquestra Voadora".  

Below, a great shot from a Block called "Bagunça meu Coreto", Carnival Block


The new street carnival bands, groups or “blocos” are identified by their names and the neighborhoods they were established in.  The best thing about the recent revival of the “blocos de carnaval” is that everyone is free to express its own style.   You don´t have to pay anything and it is, by far, Rio´s most popular, democratic and vibrant carnival expression at the wonder city.

Here we see Carnival Block, Orquestra Voadora


 See below the color of the costumes!


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In this complete analysis of the Rio Street bands prepared by www.brazilcarnival.com.br, you will understand why they became an impressive fever over the past 4 years of Carnival in Rio, and recruited in one evening more than 700,000 people at Rio´s most important financial avenue, with the Monobloco street band, one of the largest in the world.  We will also describe their historical origins, nature, identity, as well as appoint our exclusive list of the TOP blocos de Carnaval in Rio, so foreigners can really hook with interesting, irreverent and beautiful Cariocas.   Also, by singing up with our newsletter, you will receive a full 5 page document on how to dress, make-up & everything you always wanted to know about the Blocos de Rua, but was afraid to ask! 

rio street carnival groups

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Origins of the Blocos de Rua - Street Carnival Bands

“Blocos de Rua”, in accordance with some carnaval historians, represent modern versions of old “cordões” (earlier forms of Carnival processions and parades in Brazil).   At first, only a small group of people used to participate on this popular expression.   Initially, most of them were bohemians who spent the nights in Rio´s South Zone bars,  where the bands were created – but, independently  on the ‘non slept hours’, still had energy to party all day long on the Rio streets….(And sometimes would end up their partying time with a refreshing sea bath at the beach. )  Slowly, these individuals started to organize themselves and draw attention from other members of Rio´s society, including Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) musicians, artists, and workers from very different professional backgrounds.

carnival bands in RIo

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The first official “bloco” – Banda de Ipanema – arose in the 60’s, inspired by Rio party maker Albino Pinheiro, and some friends who saw in the city of Ubá, ( in the state of Minas Gerais)  a small musical band parade on the streets of the tiny city.   Albino, who used to get together with famous Rio de Janeiro bohemians like Darwin Brandão, Claudio Pinheiro, Jaguar, Ziraldo, Ferreira Gullar, Ferdy Carneiro, Roniquito, China, Armando Rosário in the bars called “Zeppelin”, “Veloso” and “Jangadeiro”, hurried to get everything organized for the first parade of their band.   This first “bloco” promoted a parade in Rio streets for the first time in 1965, having 30 shy revelers dressed in white suits, carrying musical instruments which they did not know even how to play.  (They left this task to the Navy Marines Band, hired to cheer the parade.)   From then on, these Cariocas re-discovered the nineteenth century revelers´ formula of having fun, in a free, irreverent and healthy way.

Banda de Ipanema street band inspired the creation of similar bands and “blocos”, all of them aiming at having great enjoyment in a closer environment.   These lively revelers also wanted to promote the revival of the neighborhood / local Carnaval merry-making, which was forgotten and had lost some space for the Carnival Balls.    Each of these bands also revealed and reveal to a certain extent, the particular way of living and thinking of members of that specific band.

Rio Carnival Bands

Photo Credit: Raul Lisboa - Flickr

The second street band created in Rio de Janeiro was Leme’s, founded a few years after the Banda de Ipanema  Its official 1st parade took place on February 6, 1971 when a small group of revelers delivered the number one member certificate to the Governor in charge Negrão de Lima.   Having no competitive spirit, and having many of its components living at the Ipanema neighborhood, Banda do Leme came up with a more ambitious parade program: leaving every Saturday in February and on the four days of the Rio Carnaval.   Some directors, like Alfredo Carlos and Pinheiro soon realized there were economical problems in this task.    Having no sponsorship, Alfredo thought it would not be difficult to obtain some money from the neighborhood residents, but considered this method inefficient:  Who would be in charge?  He thought soon the band would lose its authenticity, whilst transforming the band into a “club”.

In 1973 for example, trying to solve this problem, owners from Restaurant “La Fiorentina” at Leme wanted to pay 50 per cent of the expenses case the band gathered in front of that establishment, but this proposal did not move forward since it would break the band´s tradition to gather on Atlântica Avenue, corner of Rua Antonio Vieira Street.    Resisting to many obstacles, “Banda do Leme” thrived through the 70´s and 80´s presenting in its parades artists like Emilinha Borba, Clovis Bornay ( famous carnival producer )  Brazilian popular singer Tim Maia, conductor Erlon Chaves, Sérgio Bittencourt, Haroldo Costa, and Iris Letieri to name a few.  Some of these celebrities and personalities would march in the parade in old and colorful convertible cars, most of them offered by the executive Salomão Saad.


Ipanema banda by leo martins

Photo Credit: Leo Martins - Flickr 


Nature and Characteristics

One of the main differences from street bands from regular samba-schools is that they include brass instruments in their orchestra.   Samba-schools by definition are not allowed to have bass instruments like saxophones, trumpets, trombones and also according to the Carnival Regulation Committees in Rio. Another important differentiation aspect is that the Blocos   invite everyone to join at the marching route; you don´t have to be a supporter or affiliated with the band.  

A third important difference between Samba-schools and the “blocos” is they follow a pre-determined route on the streets, and not at the Sambadrome. (Some of the “blocos” though, prefer not to follow any route and play still on a square or in particular corner of a street.)  The fourth important differentiation point is the clothing:  Members may come dressed anyway they want, in carnival costumes, bathing suits, plain clothes, special T-shirts, or simply not dressed.   Finally, samba-schools have a number of pre-determined of wings and each of these wings are dressed accordingly to the Carnival Producer or Costume Director.  In case of the Rio Street Carnaval bands, there are no “wings” – everybody is packed up in a mega flock of people.  (The only exception is the musician’s wing.)

Bloco Carnaval

The “blocos de rua” today are still being created when groups of friends with a common interest (neighborhood, work place, leisure etc.) decide to march together with a carnival orchestra.   At a second moment, the carnival street band usually creates its own flag, color and themes ( some how like samba-schools ) , etc. which will be used at the parade.  Finally, they have to register with the tourism department in Rio.  You can start up a “carnaval bloco” with 30 members, and if you are lucky and successful, you can find drive more than 700,000 people to your “own” parade, like  Cordão da Bola Preta did in 2008. This is the beauty of the street bands.  Almost everything is possible here.

Today, we can surely point out that the “Blocos de Rua / Blocos de Carnaval” reflects Rio´s current Carnival charm and style, and are certainly in vogue amo

ngst native Cariocas and Brazilians from all of the country.   In 2010, the police department of Rio estimated that 3 million people took part of Rio´s street carnival partying, beating Salvador at Bahia.  Some of the best “Blocos de Carnaval” are located at Ipanema, Santa Teresa, Copacabana, Botafogo, Flamengo, Leblon, Gávea, Jardim Botânico, Lagoa and Tijuca.   There is even a street band at the charming Paquetá Island at Rio´s Guanabara Bay! 

Below,  current list of Rio Street Carnaval Blocos with the links to their sites in Rio de Janeiro

"Meu bem, Volto Já"
“Badalo de Santa Teresa”

“Bafo da Onça”   
“Bagunça Meu Coreto

Banda de Ipanema
“Bloco da Ansiedade “
“Bloco das Piranhas”
“Bloco de Segunda”

“Bloco Imprensa Que Eu Gamo”  
Cordao Bola Preta”
“Cordão do Boitatá”
Empolga as 9”   
“Imprensa que Gamo”
“Mulheres de Chico” 
“Orquestra Voadora”
“Simpatia E Quase Amor “
“Volta, Alice”   

2010 Rio Top Street Carnival Bands: ( this portion of the text was written just before 2010 Rio Carnival )

Choosing where to go is a tough task for Cariocas, even for the most experienced revelers…With so many options , what are the TOP Carnaval Blocos in Rio?  This is a very common and recurring question in Rio´s carnival.   In 2010, there were be more than 460 Street Bands, Blocos de Carnaval , officially licensed at Rio´s Tourism department. 

Below you will see my personal list of the best Blocos de Rua – Rio Street Bands.    Some of the criterion I used to make this list where: tradition, safety, and beauty of participants, energy level and finally the route which the street band follows.
Most of them are located at Ipanema, LCopacabana, RIo Flamengo, Gávea, Botafogo, Laranjeiras, Jardim Botânico and Santa Teresa, the Zona Sul (South Zone) districts. 

Bloco de Carnival Rio

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Laranjeiras District:

Bloco Imprensa Que Eu Gamo  - Saturday
Bloco da Ansiedade – Tuesday
Bagunça Meu Coreto   - Sunday
Volta, Alice - Monday
Bloco Da Ansiedade -  Tuesday

Ipanema District:

Simpatia E Quase Amor – Saturday
Banda De Ipanema – Saturday & Tuesday

Ipanema Street Carnival

Jardim Botanico:

Suvaco do Cristo – Sunday
Bloco Bangalafumenga – Sunday

Flamengo & Botafogo:

Bloco das Piranhas
Bloco de Segunda  - Monday
Cachorro Cansado -

Santa Teresa:

Badalo de Santa Teresa  - Friday
Carmelitas - Tuesday


Mulheres de Chico 

Mulheres de Chico

Downtown  / Center :

Bafo da Onça
Cordão do Boitatá
Cordao Bola Preta – Friday


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