Sunday parade

Sunday was the true start of the Olinda carnival. The town was empty all morning until crowds gathered at the foot of the town, walking along the road that follows the Atlantic north.

Olinda drummerParked along there were about 15 huge lorries, each having an immense sound system built into the body of the vehicle and with a live band and singers on top. They made the sound systems of Notting Hill look quite homemade. These are the trios eletricos; unable to negotiate the narrow streets of the town where their vibrations would probably demolish some of the more vulnerable buildings, they are confined to the coast road

The parade is led by Virgens do Bairro Novo, a huge group of men who are dressed in drag by their wives and girlfriends and who are judged on their acheivements. Mixed in with them are the teenagers and the grannies, some in masquerade but most displaying vast quantities of wobbling, sweaty flesh.

There´s not really a sense of cool. It doesn´t matter what you wear (just as long as you are there); complete unselfconsciousness about body size and shape: just beer and communal singing and dancing. The music is popular songs rather than samba; and everyone knows the words but us.

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