Once is never enough, is it?
If you’ve been following the story, you’ll know that it was my ultimate dream to play tamborim in the bateria (drum corps) of a samba school in Rio de Janeiro’s Sambódromo for Carnaval. I can honestly say at the time I didn’t even care if it was the last thing I ever did in life, I could well have died happy at the end of that parade!
As it turns out, marching just once down the Marquês de Sapucaí with the bateria of Acadêmicos da Rocinha in 2011 proved to be much like taking just one hit of a too-powerful narcotic … it cannot be done without considerable suffering and withdrawal. I warn you folks, if you ever try this, you’ll never be able to stop.
And so this is how, on March 1 2014, I found myself in the midst of the thunderous, pulsating Bateria Furacao Vermelho e Branco of Viradouro ready to unleash its fury down the passarela.A great clip of the bateria of Viradouro during the 2014 parade, with the spectacularly gorgeous Raissa Machado, rainha da bateria (drum queen).
My history with Viradouro surprisingly goes back even farther than my history with Rocinha. The following photo was taken in 2010, when my good friends Rafael and Marcone introduced me to their favorite samba school. Since then I’ve always loved Viradouro; located in Barreto, between Niteroi and São Gonçalo, it has a laid-back almost rural feel to it and is very cheerful and welcoming.
However relaxed they may be during their Saturday night parties though, they have a top-notch bateria and really run a tight ship to keep it that way when it comes to rehearsing for the big show.
Viradouro is one of the classic traditional samba schools of Rio de Janeiro and has a long history of greatness; for much of its existence, Viradouro has paraded alongside the most revered schools such as Mangueira, Salgueiro and Portela, the mighty mainstays of the “Grupo Especial” (Special Group; the samba schools are all part of a league very much akin to a professional sports league, and has several divisions. The two main divisions who get to strut their stuff in the famous Sambódromo are the top ‘Special Group’ and the ‘A-Series’, the 2nd contenders). Despite having fallen to the A-Series in 2009, Viradouro still carries the unshakable sparkle and spirit of a Special Group group school, and their bateria remains a force to be reckoned with.
You can see yours truly at 0:34 – 0:54
Somebody once told me that Viradouro has the highest proportion of women in any bateria. That particular Saturday night in 2010 I remember being completely blown away by this little lady beating the living daylights out of her tamborim beside me; her technique was flawless and the sound was so powerful, she almost made it sound like a repinique … I remember thinking ‘how can such a monstrous sound come from such a tiny girl, and how the heck am I ever going to get that good?’. The women of Viradouro’s bateria may look sweet, but they are fierce, and they are some of the most badass drummers in Rio. It was nothing short of a great honour to join their ranks.
And so once more I set off down the Sapucaí to blazing floodlights, furiously waving flags and elated cheers, the great rumble of the surdos pounding in my belly; this time the crowd was chanting ‘Viradouro Campeã!’ (‘Viradouro, Champion’!), and a joyous premonition it was … Viradouro’s magnificent parade went on to win the championship of the A-Series and next year will return to march in the Special Group once again.
It was an indescribable joy to be part of the roaring machine that carried Viradouro to victory!
See for yourself:
(click photo to see full gallery)
Orgulho de ser Niterói
Reluz no rio, o meu tesouro
De braços abertos, olhai por nós