South America Living

Samba Dance Schools in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Masha Silko.

Rio de Janeiro is the South American city known for the largest celebration of Carnival in the world. The Carnival itself is all about the spirit of community and bringing people together from all nationalities and lifestyles. Spectacular samba parades with lavish costumes and elaborate floats involve months of preparation.

Samba Dancers in Brazil During Carnival

The reason for Carnival’s existence is samba schools i.e. the school’s heritage of performing the dance with exotic costumes and flamboyant events open to the public. As popularity for the dance grew, so did Carnival celebrations in Brazil.

The city is home to hundreds of schools but there is a special group comprised of the 12 best samba schools in Rio. It is this group that brought worldwide attention and fame to the annual Rio de Janeiro Carnival; one of the biggest events on the planet. Samba schools take their name from their community.

A few private schools in Rio de Janeiro are Mangueira, Salgueiro, Mocidade and Bejia-Flor, each originating from the corresponding area in Rio.     Travel Guide to Rio de Janeiro

Samba schools are supported by government as well as sponsors. Each school has its own space where they practice, make costumes and build floats. On specific nights of the week, the schools welcome visitors to join in the party with a lot of dancing and fun. If in Rio, it is a great way to get a feel for the ‘real’ Brazil, interacting with Brazilian locals in their day to day normal environment.

Mangueira and Salgueiro are the largest and the most well-known schools in Rio. They welcome visitors to their practice halls all year round. These events are the second best thing in the city after Carnival and shouldn’t be missed when traveling in Brazil.

Mangueira Samba School in Rio de Janeiro with Contact Information

Name: Mangueira
Address: Rua Visconde de Niterói, 1072
Telephone #: 21 2223 0722

The Mangueira is the second most popular samba school in the country, after Salgueiro, and has won a lot of competitions. A few of their claims to fame are being the first parade that was ever held in the Sambadrome (1984) and winning the very first Carnival Parade Championship in 1932.

The reason why Mangueira is so popular is because of its cultural heritage. The school has a very strong and loyal supporting community and the best samba hall in Rio. This samba school is truly one of a kind. Green and pink are their official colors.

Salgueiro Samba School in Rio de Janeiro with Contact Information

Name: Salgueiro
Address: 104 Rua Silva Teles
Telephone #: 55 21 2238 0389

During the 1950’s Salgueiro established itself as a premiere dance school and won the Carnival Parade Championship in 1960. The school originated in the Salgueiro slums and is born from two samba schools. It is associated with an African-Brazilian deity named Xangô and the city of Rio de Janeiro’s patron saint, St. Sebastian. Its two primary colors are red and white.

For tourists visiting Rio during the months of February and March (when Carnival is held, dates change year to year) and experiencing Carnival, performance nights in samba schools are a highlight you may not want to miss.

If you would like to learn how to dance samba you can contact any of the schools and request information on private classes. Samba dancers not only have a passion for the dance, they love to pass on knowledge of its rhythms and intricate moves to others as well.

If you want to blend with the locals during Carnival – as opposed to just being a tourist like any other tourist – visiting one of the private schools in Rio de Janeiro to view or participate is one of the best options available to you.

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