After nearly six months of negotiations, Leandro de Itaquera, a traditional samba school from the city’s East Zone, received authorisation from FIFA to use the World Cup name in the theme of its entry in 2014’s Carnival parade. The school is located in the same neighbourhood as Arena Corinthians, the stadium that will host the World Cup’s opening game – a fact that no doubt helped this small samba school to get the approval of world football’s governing body.
Leandro de Itaquera’s best showing in SP’s Carnival so far took place back in 1991, when it came in fourth. Runners-up last year in the second division (‘Grupo de Acesso’), the school will be aiming for its best year ever with its theme, ‘Go Brazil, Football is Heart: In 2014, the World Cup Starts Here’, when it enters the Sambódromo as the first parading group in the competition.
The basics The rehearsals are a chance for anyone planning to parade to learn that year’s chosen song (samba-enredo), for the drummers to master their rhythms, for the dancers to get in step, and for the neighbourhoods to start the celebrations. But don’t let the term ‘rehearsal’ confuse you – a samba school ensaio is as much a party as a chance for the school to practice, and everyone is welcome for a cover fee. They can be crowded, sometimes slightly chaotic events, so take care to work out beforehand how you’re getting home, and leave valuables behind.