Go Ahead, Rain on My Parade
(from March 18, 2011)
It’s becoming evident to me how the more involved one becomes in living something, the less time one has to sit back and write about said something … my apologies, my fellow groove-nuts, for the near 2-month hiatus!!
In my defense, I do have several good reasons (excuses) for this, the most important being that I MADE IT!!! (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this ) After a relentless period of several weeks of very intense rehearsals, I was finally accepted to parade in the Sambódromo with Rocinha! A mission 12 years in the making has been accomplished!!!
JR made it too!! Let’s hear it for the gringos!!
Many of my supportive friends and family (bless them) have been saying they always believed I would succeed, etc. and I appreciate this sentiment very much … however, there certainly was reason to doubt, all the way up until the last minute!! I’ve mentioned this before – like my predecessor and inspiration Negin always warned, you never really know you’ve made the cut until they hand you your fantasia (costume).
In addition to the costume, the tamborim players all get swanky new skins too! Yay samba swag!
As I had previously explained, the world of samba schools in Rio is on par with professional futebol. I am not kidding (I think this is the only place on earth where music and sports are on equal footing … amazing, really!). So, as you can imagine, all of the ball-busting cut-throat machismo that exists in sports is also very present in the bateria.
At one point in the weeks leading up to the parade, I was informed that the mestre of the bateria himself was complaining that I wasn’t playing well enough, and several of the other section directors were giving Bruno flack for not running a tight enough ship with the tamborim section (and as I explained in this post, the tamborim part is among the most varied and difficult in the bateria). Fortunately, continuing on the sports parallel here, unlike the vast majority of samba school section directors, Bruno is much more like a zen martial arts master than a quarterback; he gently but firmly told them to get off his case and let him do his work. The result? Our bateria came through with flying colours. A perfect score, “Nota 10”, from all 5 judges. 50!!
I imagine many of you want to know what it was like, in the actual moment the dream was being realized, the big parade iteslf …
You can see me at around 0:45
To be honest, I think I felt more adrenaline, joy and euphoria during the ensaio tecnico (read all about it here, and see for yourelf in this video, an insider’s view of the bateria during the ensaio tecnico:
Probably the best video I’ve seen yet from this rehearsal, shot by Denilson, one of my fellow tamborim players
The official parade is the time to be completely focused on the task at hand … plus with carnaval starting so late this year, March 5 to be exact, you guessed it – it rained on my parade 😦 … it was a bit chilly and my feet were sloshing around in murky mucky water through the first half. We were programmed second-to-last, and of course as these things go, schedules slip, so by the time the blasting horn and fireworks sent us off on our journey down the Sapucaí, I was hungry and exhausted, as well as being nervous to begin with. So needless to say my arms weren’t cooperating as I wish they would have … but by that time I knew the desenhos well enough to just push through the physical barriers without worrying about what was going on musically …
Time takes on a whole other character during a samba parade … apparently it’s 80 minutes long, but you could have told me it was 5 minutes or 4 hours, and I’d have believed you either way.
As we marched toward the Praça da Apoteose at the end of the Sambódromo (the one presided over by Oscar Niemeyer’s famous arches), the sun had already started to rise … it seemed as though I was groggily waking up from a dream that had never really happened … it’s still all so surreal …
Did it feel differently than I had expected it to? Yes. Was I disappointed or let-down? No, not at all. It just felt more like a well-earned, hard-fought-for rite of passage than the thrill-ride I thought it would be.