In the last weeks of the countdown to Carnaval, there’s music everywhere. Bands invade the streets with old samba classics, songs that go back to the legendary Tia Ciata’s secret samba parties in little Africa 100 years ago, songs like Caninha’s Gripe Espanhola, (Spanish Flu) and songs like Moreira da Silva’s E Batucada, which won the first official Carnaval music contest in 1933.
Every year since that first Carnaval, thousands of hopefuls have thrown their musical and lyrical genius at the feet of the Samba School committees. If their opus is picked up as a Samba Enreda, or theme song, for Carnaval, all of Rio will dance to its beat. If not, there’s next year.
We meet Junior, a veteran of five competitions. Until he finally nails it, he enjoys performing his samba for the big names of his school. He enjoys seeing his friends and family catch the tune and the words then struggle to shake them off.
Samba music is highly contagious. When the Samba Enredas hit the airwaves, our brains become racetracks where random lines do endless laps.