Brazil’s carnival: How to celebrate and survive

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) — Everyone knows Rio de Janeiro’s carnival is supposed to be the greatest party on earth, but to many, the hordes of sweaty, scantily clad bodies on display can be as intimidating as they are inviting.

The city’s reputation for violence and the difficulties that arise from not speaking Portuguese make it even more important that tourists get some guidance about how to jump in.

The locals have barely recovered from their New Year’s hangovers and are already preparing for the five-day-long, no-holds-barred pre-Lenten bash that sweeps over this seaside city like a tidal wave.

Foreigners in the know are flocking to the hillside shantytowns, where the city’s top carnival groups hold weekly rehearsals to polish this year’s theme songs and to the Sambadrome stadium where free technical rehearsals offer a taste of the Samba parade with none of the glitter or glitz.

For the carnival itself, which takes place during the first five days of February this year, there are basically three ways to celebrate: party in the street, watch the Samba parade from the stands or — for the truly fleet-footed and daring — dance in the parade itself.

Most of the larger samba groups allow tourists to join their contingents as long as they wear the costumes, known as “fantasias.” The groups sell them to revelers over the Internet and at the city’s larger hotels, delivering them to the customer’s doorstep.

The elaborate costumes can cost anywhere from $282 to $1,412, and provide revelers with a very different perspective.

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Source: CNN: Jan 14, 2008

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