Rio’s Carnival Is Incredibly Overrated

In A Dead Bat In Paraguay I wrote:

While packed in the procession dancing along with my friends, Skol beer in hand, I realized how much worse Carnival would be if I didn’t know anyone. I wouldn’t know which blocos to pick and there would no one to tell me what the Carnival songs meant. And I definitely wouldn’t know that the cloudy white liquid in plastic bags shaped like condoms were caipirinhas. For foreigners who come alone, I don’t see how Carnival can mean anything more than getting drunk with a strange crowd.

The main feature of Carnival is the street parties called blocos. It usually starts as a prosession led by either a truck full of speakers or a band in a train car. Samba is the music of choice. They stick one song on repeat (if you’re lucky they change it up after a dozen or so plays), and a crushing crowd follows the lead car. Then the car stops and everyone focuses on drinking and talking. That’s Carnival.

Samba ParadeThe result is you go to a bloco, have a few beers, pretend you’re having a great time to another culture’s song and dance, and then go to another one. Carnival is basically drinking cheap booze with the mob, to music you don’t know or understand.

The crowd is so thick that if you lose your friends you’ll have problems finding them again. It’s unbearably hot and sweaty bodies will be pressed against you like in a game of pickup street ball. While the actual blocos are free, you have to pay five times more for already crappy lodgings. Gringo gouging is common.

As for the girls, most hang out in huge groups of friends, and at the blocos they run into even more friends. While you can pick up in a bloco, they are not designed for you to do so. Do you think a quality Brazilian girl celebrating her country’s prime cultural event with a dozen friends wants to hook up with a gringo who doesn’t speak Portuguese? Most of the hooking up happens within the social circle, so if you have no Brazilian friends you’re at a huge disadvantage.

The clubs are mostly empty at night because everyone is so tired from drinking during the day. Therefore it’s actually much harder to bang a Brazilian girl during Carnival than any other time. I’ll be in Rio for my second Carnival and I’m already preparing for a week of no new poon or going out. I plan to get some writing done and it’ll probably be my most productive week of the year.

In fact I have yet to meet someone who can explain to me why Carnival is worth it, but of course no one wants to say straight-up that it blows. But it does. Besides the colorful samba parade, which is great but only a few hours long, Carnival is a steaming piles of marketing bullshit designed to part you from your money. You won’t get laid, you won’t like the music, you won’t like the crowds, and you definitely won’t like the cheap booze. I really like Brazil, but I dread another Carnival.

New Years Eve is more of the same but with a pretty fireworks display. Save your money.

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  • Flashman

    If you are looking for good poon logistics, Carnival blows. If you are looking for an extremely memorable good time of drinking, meeting random people, and partaking of a massive good times atmosphere, Carnival is great. Memories that will last are made of poon and good times, but they don’t always occur together. It’s sometimes okay to sacrifice optimum lay conditions for other things. But that’s just my idea of life, I recognize its personal nature.

  • http://www.thegmanifesto.com The G Manifesto

    “You won’t get laid, you won’t like the music, you won’t like the crowds, and you definitely won’t like the cheap booze.”

    I think this is what they call “negative visualization”.

    “Festival Game” is a type of Game unto itself. It is not really my steez anymore, but as a younger proto-type G I did pretty well at many International Fiestas.

    That being said, I have never been to Carnival.

    - MPM

    The G Manifesto’s last blog post: How to Swoop 100 Fly Girls Per Year.

  • http://travelvice.com craig | travelvice.com

    I certainly wouldn’t recommend Carnival in Rio to folks, even though I never attended — simply the Disney-ish aspect of it is a turn-off. You’ve read it before from me Roosh, and undoubtedly heard it from others — Salvadaor.

    “What’s interestingly never talked about are the tens of thousands of Brazilians who’ve descend upon Salvador from cities up and down the coast who can’t afford (or couldn’t find) accommodations. So what does this mean to you, male tourist?

    Well, you both have something the other wants—she wants a shower and/or a place to sleep for a few hours, and you want some lovin’. Chances are strong that this arrangement will be understood without words the moment you hear she’s not from Salvador (or even that particular part of town).”

    Salvador is a fucking ROUGH Carnival — particularly on your feet — but certainly entertaining (and grabbed several Brazilian flags in the process).

    craig | travelvice.com’s last blog post: Wacky Bedouin Kids, Beautiful Desert Sunset.

  • http://travelvice.com craig | travelvice.com

    …oh, but if you’re not into dippin’ into some chocolate (don’t like dark- or milk-coco-skinned women), Salvador certainly isn’t for you.

    craig | travelvice.com’s last blog post: Wacky Bedouin Kids, Beautiful Desert Sunset.

  • Anonymous

    Salvador is just a huge procession of semi’s rigged to blare unbearable brazillian pop and axe’. The streets literally become a stream of urine and spilled beer. You can pay money to follow behind the semi’s in slightly less crowded conditions, or you can pay to pile into a camarote, which is a shitty little pseudo-club in the path of the procession. All the museums, churches and capoera schools close and the only readily available food is nauseating meat and beans friend in palm oil. The poor wander the street, creating huge piles of aluminum cans from the beers discarded by rich brazilians and gringos. Some of these mountains can reach 10 feet or more in height, and are a significant source of income for Salvadore’s largely unemployed population.

    My most memorable moment on Salvador was escaping the press of humanity to chill on the beach for a few, only to see an “overweight” woman waddle into the ocean, pull aside her bikini and proceed to have explosive diarhea into the sea.

    On the cab ride back, the cabby pretended to not understand the layout of the roadblocks and gave us the runaround until we ditched him and ran back to the hotel up an eerily quiet side street. Easily the least enjoyable part of my trip to Brazil.

  • http://www.easycomings.com Bezzie

    “My most memorable moment on Salvador was escaping the press of humanity to chill on the beach for a few, only to see an “overweight” woman waddle into the ocean, pull aside her bikini and proceed to have explosive diarrhea into the sea.”

    Salvador definitely sounds like hippie paradise!

    Bezzie’s last blog post: Hello, Goodbye..

  • Gio

    When was Rio in its “prime” for guys like us?….maybe in the 50′s and 60′s like they say about Cuba..For Costa Rica and Baja Mexico it was the 60′s/70′s/80′s???

  • Armanid27

    Rio blows wether it’s carnival or Sept. 10th, or June 6th – it does not matter which of the 365 days of the year you pick, RIO Blows! Lived there for 3 years with the lazy ass cariocas, and I’ve seen my fair share of 60 yeard old grandfathers in speedo swimsuits 2 sizes too small kicking a soccer ball around on the beach – NO THANK YOU! One time, I was enjyong a cocunut on the beach, when I saw this 50 year old man, with a huge beer-gut lift his leg-up a bit too high while trying to knee a soccer ball – I have not been able to sleep a full 8 hours ever since! ssshiivverrrrrr
    Another thing to note, alamost every girl you see on teh ebach, works programa at night, or has been a programa at some point in her life in anotehr brazilian city – it’s teh wait it is! I went out with a girl once, and was amazed as she was pointing out randomly all the girls being hit on at a club, that she knew from a brothel. It’s funny how all these guys are spening so much money on thsi girl, if they only knew she can be had for 200R at a Boate!

    Brasilia, Coiba – go there!!!

  • ThatGuyFromBrazil

    Carvinal blows.

    Avoid it.

  • from manila

    same basic premise applies for NYE and full moon parties in Thailand

  • Roosh

    Not one Carnival defender. And I thought I was going against the grain with this post.

  • The Rookie

    My best friend went, and he wasn’t too excited. He was by himself.

  • Zictor

    Rio Carnival, it’s a marketing stunt for TV.

    Salvador and Recife/Olinda are much better. Those are the places where Israeli backpackers flock to.

  • Anonymous

    A buddy of mine got a couple of notches from the blocos, but basically I agree with you. He had to put in a tremendous amount of work for it.

  • Adrian

    I gotta say, I think I am beginning to prefer Roosh’s blog with it’s more practical approach over Roissy.
    Moreover, Roissy seems to have lost his mojo.

  • http://greendroppings.com Simon

    That image of a fat women pulling her bikini aside to have explosive diarrhea just made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I’m unsure of where to go for Carnaval. I don’t think I want to be in Rio for it, or Salvador, it sounds like.

    Simon’s last blog post: Thoughts on Brazil after nearly a week.

  • FARC

    Roissy said everything he had to say inside a few months. I don’t know why he continues to post.

  • Roosh

    Guys take the Roissy criticisms somewhere else.

  • speakeasy

    Flashman,

    Your take on Carnival sounds most reasonable and if I ever went, I think I’d approach it with the same attitude. I take seriously Roosh’s precautions about the hoopla surrounding Carnival. I think though that as long as you have realistic expectations and aren’t coming down thinking you’ll be banging Samba school queens, you can find a way to have a great time. If you’re a fan of Brazil and Brazilian culture, I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t be interested in seeing a Carnival at least once.

    Btw, this guy has the best job on earth: http://www.theage.com.au/travel/travel-news/best-job-in-brazil-painting-nude-carnival-models-20090226-8ij0.html

  • Marc

    Hahaha… You oughta try South Beach on Memorial Day weekend. Be afraid my friends.

  • RASC

    Trinidad Carnival > Rio Carnival. The End.

  • http://www.journeyidea.com Rio carnival facts

    Very informative post. Everyone should experience the Carnival in Rio once in their lifetime to see the renowned parades at Sambodromo.In the North Zone you can find Maracana stadium and Rio zoo, which is most visited by tourist.The West Zone comprises of cities like Jacarepagua, Recreio, the newly formed Barra de Tijuca, Campo Grande, Santa Cruz to site a few.you can also find shopping malls in Barra de Tijuca.For more details refer http://www.journeyidea.com/rio-de-janeiro-carnival-serenading-paradise-part-ii/

    Rio carnival facts’s last blog post: The Perahera Festival of Sri Lanka.

  • norm

    I couldn´t agree with you more about Carnival in Rio. It blows!

  • Santana

    It’s good to see a bit of realism about Brazil, Rio and the Carnival. I’ve been twice (eight weeks in total )and speak basic Portugese, so whilst I’m not an expert, I do have a sense of the place. Brazil has its good points but there are many bad ones but because it has good PR and a sexy image, the negatives are largely pushed aside.

    The author of this article obviously knows Rio and he makes a very good point about managing the expectations of gringoes who have been led to belive that they will be besieged by gringo hungry, brown skinned garotas upon arrival in Brazil. Anyone with unrealistic expectations of Brazil is heading for a fall. I could mention the crime, the expense, the gringo gouging but in this case, you guys should note that unless you speak good conversational Portugese and ideally have some local friends, you will have a colder reception than you may expect. Be realistic, Brazil is good if you can speak the lingo, have money and know the place and people – the moment you move away from this template, the more it starts to suck.

  • Anonymous

    Haha roosh, me and a mate are at carnival at the mo and everything you’ve said is totally bang on the money! Totally overrated. Ate only other negative you failed to mention is on top of all that misery there’s a strong likelihood some street kid will rob you!

  • Anonymous

    *the only

  • Anonymous

    I think it all depends on how you go about it. If you wanna be a sensitive gringo then be my guest, but don’t come to Brazil. For the one talking about the old men, and the overweight woman, that’s part of the beauty of carnival, it’s a celebration to be enjoyed by all walks of life. Sure it may be kind of trashy, but if u get into the groove it’s a hard carnival to beat. And don’t forget to mention the carnival in the sambodromo, that might be more appealing to a more conservative American

  • anonymous

    “You won’t get laid, you won’t like the music, you won’t like the crowds, and you definitely won’t like the cheap booze”

    this isn’t true……ur just lame and can’t pull Brazilian women!
    Rio carnival is amazing, it’s all about how u go about it. If ur not a party type person, u might enjoy the parades, but u have to be a real P A R T Y A N I M A L to get the full effect! Come to Brazil for carnival, I promise, you won’t regret it!

  • Yeah

    I just wanna vouch for this article. Carnival is complete overrated crap, unless you are less than 20 years old. It is a brazilian saying that. There are so many better things to do, better places to go that requires less money and can possibly be way more pleasant than this steaming pile of drunks and sluts trying to gouge you off your money.

  • Agreed

    The age factor plays a role for a visiting gringo. I experienced Carnaval in Rio when I was 24, and it was “interesting”. I had a great time, and, admittedly, let’s just say that I did things that I would never do now at 45 years of age. It would be a very conservative affair if I ever went back. But hey, that’s what you do when you’re a kid…you take chances, live for the moment. For anyone in that phase and age of life, Carnaval is cool.