Sunday, January 27, 2008

Carnaval Outside of Rio

I've commented before on Seth Kugel's colonialist writing style for the NY Times Travel section, and this article doesn't lose any of that tone, but Kugel does have an article worth reading about Carnaval outside of Rio. This year, I am unfortunately trapped in Rio for Carnaval (which starts next Friday). Last year, I was fortunate enough to escape Rio for Carnaval, and it was one of the best things I've ever done. Sure, Rio's celebration is quite a spectacle, but it's also expensive and loud, everything shuts down, and the city gets flooded with tourists, and the celebration itself has become so commercial that some of the grassroots expressions that Carnaval originally established have disappeared.

That's certainly not the case in other parts of the country. "Carnaval" is not one uniform celebration across the country, and Kugel's article chronicling 4 different options in 4 very different parts of the country just further demonstrates that fact. Every region has its own celebration, its own cultural expression, and each Carnaval brings its own cultural and regional particularities into place. Racial and sexual identities that tend to be marginalized in rural societies are on full display and celebration. The rhythms and music, while not professional, are still extremely compelling, and as I commented last year, the fact that Carnaval outside of Rio is far more a labor of love than a commercial enterprise gives it even more meaning (at least to me). For anybody who considers coming to Brazil for Carnaval, or who is just interested in Carnaval, it is well worth checking out Kugel's article, just to see how much more Brazil has to offer outside of Rio.