Battons, mohawks, high heels and feather boas - 2015 Helsinki Samba Carnaval

Who doesn't love big colorful costumes, smiling people, loud music and a little rain? No one! So here goes the 25th annual Helsinki Samba Carnaval!

It wasn't my first or my last samba carnival - you may have read my earlier post: Welcome to the Northernmost samba capital of the world!!? So I was back again, running along the hundreds of sambistas last Saturday - with a camera in hand, obviously. 

Leading the pack, Papagaio and Punk

Leading the pack, Papagaio and Punk

Have you ever seen a Punk bateria? now you have!

Have you ever seen a Punk bateria? now you have!

The carnival started at 3pm on the dot at Helsinki's landmark filled Senate Square. The bells of the massive white cathedral rang to mark the start time for G.R.E.S. Império do Papagaio samba school, which was the last year's winner and had the honor of leading the parade. An audience of tens of thousands of people had already more than an hour ago started to line up on the city streets to cheers and gawk at the stunning dancers. And it certainly was a visual overload!

Hundreds of dancers soon filled the streets! In the center of every school there was also a samba drum group, bateria, providing the live music along with a sound truck featuring singers and musicians. They together provided the tune for their school - along with each signing dancer. Your ears were ringing after Papagaio's massive 60-strong punk-themed bateria had gone past you.... and your heart was definitely beating on the pulsating samba rhythm by then!

It was indeed the Papagaio's "punkistas" that stole my heart. The school's punk theme was well picked as it seemed to bring out the rebel as well as community spirit within the school. The dancers and the band member were on fire even on that cold rainy day - singing lyrics that certainly took the mood through the roof:

We’ll look how we like, we play whatever we want. We’ll leave our trace in the world, attitude is what counts.

As it turned out, punk had also become a popular topic over the past months among the public with the recent Eurovision song contest having a hyped punk band been chosen as Finland's representative. And Papagaio certainly took full advance of the hype!

Following Papagaio were six more samba schools from all over the country. It's quite an impressive task to haul altogether hundreds of dancers and musicians with all their costumes, make-up, instruments and also the floats all the way to Helsinki. The floats! Did I mention the floats also have to built so that they can maneuver sharp 90 degree turns, cobblestone streets and small hills? Good luck with that!

Samba Carioca dancers

Samba Carioca dancers

From these seven schools four were taking part in the Finnish samba championships. So while they were performing, a team of judges were sneakily walking aside them, assigning points and making notes. How were the costumes? The theme? The dancing? The song and the lyrics? The bateria's performance? How coherent was it? Each detail was under scrutiny. And on the coming Wednesday we'll hear the results!

No matter what, the dancers - as well as the audience - certainly all put on a brave face in the unfriendly weather. Gusts of wind and showers of cold rain swept the streets but the spirits were high!

Roseira's dancer seems excited despite the rain

Roseira's dancer seems excited despite the rain

Papagaio's "God save the Queen"

Papagaio's "God save the Queen"

Below a list of the dance schools in this parade on June 6 2015. Papagaio, Gambo, Roseira and Maracanã also took part in the national samba championships and their parade themes are also in the list.

1. G.R.E.S. Império do Papagaio - Punk (Papagaio on Punk - Säpinää Helsingin Kaduilla)
2. Samba el Gambo - Magic (Gambo Taikoo Karnevaalit)
3. Força Natural
4. União da Roseira - Diving into memories (Roseira Sukeltaa Muistoihin)
5. G.R.E.S. Samba Carioca 
6. Samba Maracanã - Birds (Maracanã Liitää Karnevaaliin Samban Siivin)
7. Sambic

Sambic, the last dance school in the parade

Sambic, the last dance school in the parade

 

Photo gallery

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