With green, red and white as its colours, the samba school X-9 (‘Shees-Nove’) Paulistana has only won the main competition at the Sambódromo twice in 36 years. 2013’s theme – a paean to the drylands of the North East – gives way to this year’s crazed 'Insano' (insane) theme.
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.