There are street parties everywhere in Rio during Carnaval... There is a list of street parties and there was to be 400 parties throughout the duration of Carnaval.
Some are small “block” parties that are mostly attended by locals, and some are much MUCH bigger events that everyone seems to be at. People get dressed up in all sorts of costumes to be a part of the festivities, and entrepreneurs sell beer (cerveja), water (aqua) and soft drinks (don't know the translation) from eskies on the side of the road.
These street parties are so, so different from anything I've seen in Australia... They seem to be informal events that just seem to evolve... In most cases there is a police presence but they seem to keep it pretty low key. The other big difference is that there aren't barricades keeping people in specific areas (in most cases). You can buy a beer on the street and take it with you as the parade move along.
We found ourselves in the midst of a few street parties and on two occasions got caught by the crushing crowd in what turns out to have been a record breaking street party with 2.2 million people in attendance!! Knowing that we don't feel so bad that the five of us managed to get separated as we attempted to pass through...
( Some random dude who decided he had to jump into my picture)
On Saturday afternoon as we were heading to Ipanema beach via the Metro. As we walked towards the train station the crowd grew until we were in the midst of a massive crowd of people. Some people were simply enjoying the music, but most like us were trying to get through (but in both directions). The crowd was massive and with so many people moving different directions, it was near impossible to move let alone stay together as a group.
(We wish we had umbrellas like theses... would make finding each other much easier!!)
Despite our efforts to stay together – the 5 five of us had created a chain holding hands and clothes - we were separated with Mum, Dad and I together, and Zac and Milka somewhere else... As we had not expected to end up in such a crowd, we hadn't arranged a 'lost' plan and the 2 mobile phones between us were with Zac and Milka. So we abandoned plan A (the beach) and tried plan B – find a phone and see if we could make contact that way. We moved through two more sections of crushing crowd before we found some open space and payphones. Our success was shortlived however, as we soon discovered that all of the phones required a phonecard – which we didn't have.
Plan C was then put into action... find out where we were and head back to the hotel. Lucky for us, Dad had disobeyed Zac's instructions and taken the map with him (we were told that if you have a map you look like a tourist and become a target for theives). So we took note of a few street signs, headed to an area that didn't have too many people and, with our backs to the fence, and Mum and I on watch, proceeded to work out where to go. It probably took us about 45 minutes to walk back but were anxious to see Zac and Milka at the hotel or at least be able to ring them. When we got back we found a message from them saying that they'd lost us and were heading back to the hotel too. 5 minutes later our doorbell rang and a very relieved Zac stood there very pleased that a) we'd all come to the same conclusion about going back to the hotel, and b) that we'd mananged to get ourselves out of the crowd without being separated further (there was NO way that was going to happen – none of us were letting go of each other!!)
So plan C was a success... and we managed to experience the worlds largest street party in Rio during Carnaval. Woohoo!! We were all a lot more conscious about walking into a crowded street after that, however we did go to a couple of other street parties which were very different to our first experiences - We could enjoy the music and dancing and the atmosphere with room to move.
We had another success though... We all got through that massive crowd with wallets, purses, money, cameras and handbags in-tact, despite the efforts of a pickpocket - both Zac and Dad felt and saw someone attempt to take their wallets in the thick of the crowd. This was quite an achievement as we were all trying to hold onto the person in front as well as hold onto wallets with no room to move whatsoever.
We also got to see a couple of the more tame street parties/parades that passed by our hotel. These were much more civilised with fabulous drumming and percussion bands!