Representing the neighbourhood of Vila Madalena, Pérola Negra – Black Pearl – will be hoping 2014 brings better luck than 2012, when a fire on its float set Pérola’s chances at a win aflame. This year, the school goes for a hopeful theme: ‘Everyone is in Search of Happiness'.
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.