So I went to check out the carnival in Santos, because I thought this might be a necessary experience. But since neither my wife nor me are big fans of carnival, we were not overly enthusiastic about it. And we soon realized that trying to buy a ticket for one of the big Samba parades in Santos a day before it starts is impossible, because it was sold out. So we were left with only two more options: finding a “bloco” in the neighborhood or go to the beach.
A bloco is a small, local carnival group consisting of a few to many people who are playing music in the street and spectators coming to party and dance. Sometimes a part of the street is closed off and you have to pay a small entrance fee, sometimes you don’t. But strangely the blocos in Santos all started at 3pm or 7pm and were a little to early for me. Because after a long night of watching the Parade in São Paulo my plan for the day had been somewhat delayed. So we were left with the last option: the beach. It’s always great to have one.
Carnival at the beach
You have to know that Santos has the largest beachfront garden in the world (called Jardims da orla and about 5.5km long) which consists of a more or less pretty park behind the main street, a couple of places for Quiosques at the canals (Santos is situated on an island) and a pretty big beach. During the summer there are a couple of marquees set up at the beach with are showing concerts and hosting events the whole week.
So we left for the beach. It was only a quick stroll to the first marquee and we found it full of as well as surrounded by people. The walls of the tent were open so that people on the beach from the outside could see. A circle of Barracas was built around it, wagons in which Caipirinha or Pastel was freshly made and sold. The only problem: when we arrived there was nobody playing. People seemed not to mind, the more experienced Santistas had brought beach chairs and coolers with beer and they were having no problem with passing the time waiting for the next band. But we were a little restless and headed on.
Gospel music at the beach
The next marquee was significantly bigger and there were more people standing before it, which made our expectations rise. Unfortunately we soon discovered, that the band there was playing a pretty terrible Gospel-Pop-music-mix. You have to know that religion is a big thing in Brazil, not only the Catholic Church, but also all kind of variations of it. There are several public tv stations showing religious content and playing Gospel music all day long. And while I do not have anything against church work (as long as it supports and helps individuals and is not used to suppress them, which unfortunately is still happening quite a lot), the music was clearly not my cup of tea, in fact, it made me suffer. And since the only drinks being sold at the Gospel marquee were water, we had to had continue walking.
Karaoke-Carnival at the beach
I did not want to take any more risks and so we headed back to the first tent and the numerous Caipirinha stands around it. I ordered Caipirinha de Maracuja with Vodka and I still find watching it being prepared fascinating: so easy and yet so powerfull. The drink was amazing and a bit later a band started playing Axé, which is a fast carnival music from Bahía. Compared to the icy winter weather I am used to for carnival in Germany, dancing in the sand on the beach with about 25 degrees at night felt absolutely strange but also somewhat consistent. Then I realized to my surprise, that I knew some of the songs from my last Karaoke evening, which made me feel even a little more connected to this strange evening. And so we sang and danced and I watched the families around me (some of them in costumes) have a fun night at the beach. I could not help to think that maybe I might have to reconsider my disapproval of carnival a little bit.
Some random observations
Some more observations on the beach in Santos during carnival: so many couples kissing and making out (nice), a small camping tent at the end of the beach with someone having sex inside pretty noisily (funny and absolutely unusual), and a couple of used condoms lying in the sand near the marquees (I’m glad the kids use them but I disapprove of just throwing them away, after all there are kids playing at the beach until late at night). So I guess it really is a crazy time.