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The Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is a world-famous festival held before Lent every year, featuring elaborate floats and parades, street festivals, music and dance.
Sacramento held its own scaled-down version Saturday night, the first annual presented by the Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento.
Held in the very chilly McCulley Brothers parking garage on 1616 I St., the inaugural event featured performances by the Fenix Drum & Dance Company and SambaDá, drumming and capoeira demonstrations by Agua de Beber, and several food and product vendors.
Curiously, there was not a large selection of Brazilian food available, but there was a vendor selling home-cooked chicken, rice and potatoes (described by the cooks as Peruvian) and another booth set up by El Patrón Bar & Grill on Folsom selling tacos and margaritas.
There was a consistently long line for small caipirinhas, Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaça (a liquor made from fermented sugar cane), sugar and lime, which were handmade by a lone person and served in polystyrene coffee cups filled with ice.
Highlights included the Afro dance and drumming of Fenix Drum & Dance Company, the Afro-Brazilian samba stylings of Santa Cruz-based SambaDá, and the drumming and capoeira demonstrations of Agua de Beber, a local arts academy.
It was hard not to enjoy the music and move as SambaDá played. Vocalist Dandha Da Hora interacted with the crowd and brought people on stage to show off their samba skills, and also led everyone on the floor in an organized Brazilian line dance, moving in time to the rhythms on stage.
The Agua de Beber troupe entertained by marching through the crowd, playing their bass drums, atabaques and berimbaus, singing and stopping to perform capoeira and maculele (an Afro-Brazilian dance characterized by two people in a circle dancing and rhythmically striking sticks ("grimas") together.)
Shortcomings notwithstanding, it's great that the first steps toward creating a great Carnaval Brasileiro party and experience in Sacramento have been taken. Hopefully we can look forward to seeing this event develop and grow.