Updating you on the fallout from the fire that tore through Rio de Janeiro’s Samba City last weekend requires a quick primer on how Carnival works:
Carnival is mostly a huge street party; Brazilians take to the streets to drink and dance following neighborhood bands called blocos around the city. Some participate in parades with varying levels of formality. The most organized parades are competitive and run by organizations called samba schools. Actually huge production companies, the groups spend all year preparing armies of dancers and musicians to compete in this spectacular and highly-publicized part of Carnival, staged annually in Rio’s Sambadrome. The facility is a broad avenue flanked by stadium seats where schools parade alongside giant floats and judges pick the group whose steps, costumes and music are deemed that year’s best. So. The fire:
Rio’s top samba officials said yesterday the three schools that lost their costumes and floats in the fire will march during the festival, but they won’t be asked to actually compete. This is good for them because, without their costumes and other gear, they would be competing at a disadvantage and would risk dropping from the top division of samba schools. Each year the division-one school that receives the lowest ranking in the competition drops down to a lower division, while the best division-two school moves up. Anyway, the three schools affected by the fire are going to march, but they won’t be judged and risk losing their coveted spot in the upper-most division. They can’t win, but they can’t lose either.