Carlos Melia: Behind the Scenes Samba Experience

Author: , August 14th, 2015

Samba in Brazil - Carlos melia

If there is an experience you must have when in Rio de Janeiro, it is SAMBA, and what best than doing a behind-the-scenes tour to the world of the “samba schools” of Rio, which has remained mysterious and hidden. Let’s open the doors to reveal the secrets behind it. For this I came to the Samba City in the district called Little Africa, A beautiful, ancient and historical part of the port of Rio, where samba and the very first samba school was born. Hosted by one of the last year winning Escola de Samba Mirim Pimpolhos da Grande Rio ” Samba School “.

Grande Rio is non-profit organization and a Samba School for Grande Rio’s children, that uses carnaval’s arts and popular culture as a tool for education. Grande Rio is one of the newest schools, nevertheless currently one of the most successful members of the First League (Special Group). It has come close to winning in all the last 10 years. It is currently ranked the second best among all Rio samba schools. Samba School Grande Rio represents Duque de Caxias, a satellite town of Rio de Janeiro.

Samba - Carlos MeliaWere you aware that there are more than 80 samba schools in Rio with more than 100,000 dancers? Carnival is the most exciting event of the year where thousands of people travel worldwide just to experience this electrifying atmosphere. I wasn’t there for this particular time of the year, but I’ve got to experience the long yearly process of getting ready for their day view at the Sambodromo. This attraction, which takes place in Samba City, immerses visitors in the preparations that take place prior to the Carnival. You can actually experience some of the activities first hand. Opened in 2004, this facility provides 14 of the top samba schools adequate space to build their floats and prepare their song and samba routines., to give them an opportunity to create, learn and develop their skills by using carnival language. We were hosted warmly by the Grande Rio School, for a 2 hours Samba Experience, which was highly educational, interesting and fun.

Samba City is located in full contrast, next to “Providencia”, the first favela of Rio de Janeiro, and next to the new development of Porto Maravilha, which will be ready for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Even if you don’t go to Rio de Janeiro during the Carnival you can still experience this incredible celebration at Samba City. One of the highlights of Pimpolhos is to give back to their community, in this case to the shanty town of Providencia. Pimpolhos da Grande Rio’s mission is to promote education and social interaction through arts and culture, offering long-life learning opportunities for children, youth (ages five to eighteen) and their families.

Carlos Melia - SambaYour tour will begin at the warehouse where the floats and costumes are made. It is one of the 12 warehouses in Cidade do Samba the one that counts with the most technological machinery. The next stop on the tour is the sewing area where you can see some of the beautiful sparking costumes the samba dancers will be wearing during the Carnival. The costume designers and tailors will show you how the costumes are designed and sewn.

The warehouse, an old building from the early 20th century that is a large part of carnaval history. It is the place where Pimpolhos produces three allegoric floats, 2000 costumes and undertakes most of its social projects. Here each school produces more than 4000 costumes and 12 allegoric floats. Some of the costumes below, might look familiar to you, if you are a follower of the Carnivals.

Moving forward you will be invited to a room where you will see a very interesting video and brief lecture on the history behind Samba, its beginnings and how it became part of the Brazilian culture. Carnival has been celebrated in Brazil and in Rio de Janeiro for centuries, but samba schools were only first inaugurated in Rio Carnival in the 1920s. At the end of the 19th century, immigrants from Bahia state brought with them the tradition of playing candomble and dancing a bahian dance called the samba. In the slums of downtown Rio, a place referred to as ‘Little Africa’, they established a number of religious houses devoted to religious ceremonies where they played and danced the early forms of samba. The first group to call itself a samba school was a group founded in 1928 and called Deixa Falar, which came from the district of Estacio, located on the hill above Praca Onze, considered the cradle of samba. They called themselves samba school because they met right next door to a local children’s school.

And once the educational part is done, was time for fun!!!!! A 25 minutes Samba show including dancing, percussions, and don’t be shy, because you will be part of it in every way. You will learn how to dance, and how to play the music. But this was just the beginning, because after our workshop we moved to the dressing rooms to try on our customs and be ready for our own moment on the Samba spotlight.

Such an amazing experience, which not only gave me a full insight on Samba, but also showed me some moves. Of course as we were ready to come to an end of the tour, we were escorted to the a bar area to close our tour over refreshing and well deserved Caipirinhas. For more information on this tour and how to book it, do not hesitate to contact me.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog | Brazil Gay Travel Resources

Breakaway Backpacker – Dying in Rio

Author: , June 16th, 2015

Jaime DavilaI rolled out of bed and looked at my clock it was 3am. I felt exhausted and weak. I needed to go pee though really bad. I sat there a moment and finally found the energy to get up and walk to the toilet down the hall from my dorm. I went in and instead of peeing ended up throwing up. I had no clue what I was throwing up because I had not eaten in the past 3 days. I then peed and walked back.

As I was walking back I felt my eyes roll back and I hit the floor hard. I had fainted and for a brief second had no clue what was happening. I got up and could barely walk. Then I heard someone ask if I was okay. I said, “no I just fainted”. He jumped out of bed to help me to bed. It was the German who has been on the bunk above me the past few days. I don’t know his name or much about him. He knows I’m sick and ask me how I’m doing every time he comes and goes from the room. He’s only seen me in bed sick. I’m glad he got up.

He told me I had to go to the hospital. I told him yes please. While he searched for the nearest hospital I gathered my things. I put all the medicine I was taking in my backpack along with my passports and credit cards and cash. I didn’t have insurance so knew this wasn’t going to be cheap. I didn’t care though I had been sick long enough and wasn’t getting better. I honestly thought I was dying. Lucky for us the hospital was a few blocks away. He helped me walk outside and we took a cab and arrived at the hospital.

By Jaime Davila – Full Story at Breakaway Backpacker | Brazil Gay Travel Resources

Featured Gay Accommodations: Penthouse 1301, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Author: , December 17th, 2014

Copacabana - Penthouse 1301

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Spacious Penthouse with Ocean View: This spacious 3 bedrooms, 3 full baths penthouse is located just 1/2 block from the famous Copacabana beach and can comfortably accommodate a party of up to six adults. The penthouse has a view of the ocean and the mountain from both patios. Rates are for entire apartment.

See the Penthouse 1301 Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Brazil

300K Celebrate Gay Pride in Rio de Janeiro

Author: , October 14th, 2013

Rio Gay PrideBrazil’s second largest Gay Pride Parade attracted roughly 300,000 people to Rio de Janeiro’s famed Copacabana beach on Sunday.

Revelers cheered legal victories that effectively allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Brazil also recognizes the legal marriages of gay couples from outside its borders. Organizers told the AP that the annual party helps raise awareness about safer sex practices and continued violence directed at the LGBT community.

See the Full Story at On Top Magazine

Click here for gay travel resourcesin Brazil.

Rio Gay Pride Coming This Weekend

Author: , October 10th, 2013

Rio Gay PrideDon’t be left out of this superb experience. Join more than a million people on the streets of Rio de Janeiro for the 18th edition of Rio Gay Pride on October 13. The parade will kick off early afternoon at Copacabana at Posto 5 near the Rio Sofitel Hotel. Expect flashy costumes, sexy men and women, and a magical experience you won’t soon forget. The city will also host a food event, art showings, parties each night, a lesbian festival Lesbifest III, and much more!

See the Full Story at Passport

Click here for gay travel resources in Brazil.

Gay Guide to Rio

Author: , September 16th, 2013

Rio de JaneiroBy any stretch of the imagination, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most spectacular cities on the planet – the blue-green South Atlantic Ocean laps a wide expanse of white beaches, abutting the lush greenery of a semi-tropical forest. Superimpose a pulsating city, and vibrant queer nightlife and plenty of cultural highlights for a complete view of Rio’s offerings.

No wonder it’s nicknamed ‘The Wonderful City’. Although it’s also a very large city, with plenty of tourist stops to take in, I’ve been drafted in to talk about gay Rio, which is essentially concentrated in the beach areas of Ipanema and Copacabana, making it all the more easy to navigate. Simply head for the sea and you’ll start bumping into more queer eye-candy than is good for a body. Nowhere in all my travels have I seen the likes of the people who hang on Rio’s gay scene. If you’re not buffed and bronzed, prepare to feel a little bit out of place here – particularly around Carnival time and New Year, the city is a Mecca for circuit boys and trendy dykes.

Of the two beach areas, Ipanema is the more upmarket, with lots of designer shopping, four-star restaurants and cool cafes. Ipanema means ‘bad water’ in Brazilian Indian dialect, but this has nothing to do with it’s amazingly blue sea, just something to do with a nasty Baron who used to own the area.

See the Full Story at

Click here for gay travel resources in Brazil.

Rio Gay Pride Coming in October

Author: , August 22nd, 2013

Rio de Janeiro - Apple Maps

from Apple Maps

This 8-13 October, the heat that you’ve been longing to feel will overwhelm you as Rio’s Famous Pride Parade hits the scene. With colourful costumes, fabulous floats and perfectly sculpted bodies, Brazil is calling and you won’t want to miss it!

With events catering to all walks of the gay lifestyle, the party reaches a fever pitch as revellers all gather on the famous Copacabana Beach for one of South America’s biggest pride parades! Celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of Brazilian culture, this pride event is one that will definitely leave a lasting impression. And, after the last samba is danced, the Rio area is full of experiences to keep the party going.

See the Full Story at Rainbow Tourism

Click here for gay travel resources in Brazil.