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Dancing in the Streets
New Orleans has Mardi Gras. Brazil has Carnival — a dancing-in-the-streets celebration that lasts for a week just before Ash Wednesday. The elaborate parades include lots and lots of music from some of the country’s biggest singing stars.
It’s good stuff, and trucks bring it. Specially adapted to become moving stages, outfitted with a stadium quality sound system, these rolling entertainment vehicles are known as trios eletricos. The first were created about 50 years ago from a simple car specifically for Carnival celebrations, and now they are a vital part of the festivities.
It’s not just that they provide the pulsing soundtrack for crowds to enjoy. As these huge trucks with a band on top slowly move down the streets, they are surrounded by people who have bought a ticket to be part of the bloco, accompanying the music makers. So just as someone buys a seat for a concert by their favorite band, the members of the bloco get a ticket that allows them to be among the people gathered around the truck of favorite performers, like Claudia Leitte (above) or Daniela Mercury. For the price of the ticket, they get a special T-shirt that identifies them as part of the bloco. They stay within an area around the truck surrounded by a Carnival version of the velvet rope — security guards (cordeiras) form a no-trespassers area for the revelers with a long, heavy cord.
The bloco move and dance and sing along as their concert on wheels moves slowly in their midst. The folks outside the ropes are known as pipoca (popcorn, in Portuguese).