Showers, daring, glitches as Rio Carnival rolls
By Stuart Grudgings
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Luxuriant floats, one topped by Parisian cancan dancers and others showering hundreds of be-feathered dancers with water, rolled on Monday as Rio de Janeiro's Carnival parades burst into life.
A golden Queen Cleopatra bathing in milk, a female dancer pushing the limits of Carnival tolerance, and the high-kicking Moulin Rouge troupe kept 70,000 spectators in Rio's Sambadrome buzzing through to dawn.
Behind the scenes, next to a putrid canal and out of sight of the throng, the near perfect symmetry and order of the parades seemed a world away as the Samba schools frantically prepared for their annual coming-out show.
Stewards dressed in bow ties scampered here and there fixing last-minute wardrobe malfunctions and trying to hold back the tide of Brazilian tardiness and high spirits.
Enterprising vendors from nearby slums dangled ice boxes full of beer over a wall for nervous performers seeking a drop of Dutch courage.
Like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, performers dressed as 19th century nobles, wide-skirted "Baiana" dancers, and musical notes mingled as they sought their starting positions, practiced their lines or enjoyed a last-minute cigarette.
"People who have never paraded don't understand they need to be here in front instead of chatting," fumed 47-year-old Malucia Camacho, who was in charge of a "wing" of about 80 costumed dancers for the Mocidade Samba school.
"It's not a lack of practice, it's because they like turning up late and don't like to work. They are undisciplined," she added, before bustling off to chide a group of nobles. Continued...