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The Carnival of Bahia

Bahia Carnival (Entrudo) Photo / Reproduction: Public Domain
Bahia Carnival (Entrudo) Photo / Reproduction: Public Domain

In the second half of the XNUMXth century, the newspaper Diário da Bahia and the Catholic Church criticized and asked the police authorities to take action against the Entrudo. When the Sunday before Lent was approaching, everyone was 'saddening up'. 'Faces' appeared on the streets in the form of flocks wrapped in covers, catholic mats, leaves of trees and abadás - a kind of loose-fitting short-sleeved shirt, reaching the curve of the knees, which blacks wore. In the Entrudo, people would get wet when walking through the streets, houses would be invaded to wet people and it didn't matter that they were sick or elderly.

In 1853 the Entrudo began to be repressed with police orders. Even so, the 'laranjinhas' and bowls with water continued to exist. It was exactly during this period that Carnival began to originate in a different way, dividing itself into two classes: the Hall Carnival and the Street Carnival. The Carnival of Salão had the participation of white and mulattoes of middle class; the street Carnival, had poor blacks and mulattos.

In 1860 the São João Theater began to perform bold masked balls, on Saturday night, starting the parties with songs based on excerpts from the Italian opera 'La Traviata'. Then waltzes, polkas and gangs were played. The event had the participation of people of good social level, who exchanged the balls held in their homes for the theater. At the time, there was a danger that the trained man and the businessman would be seen masked. As a result, costume houses and hairdressers, such as the famous 'Pinelli' and 'Balalaia' kept specialists in disguises.

As the carnival balls were not available to everyone, or according to the morals of many, it was necessary to encourage them to go out into the street. For this reason, the sub-delegates were allowed to distribute free masks to anyone who wanted to play Carnival. Several commissions were nominated by the chief of police and the central commission, along with other parish commissions that distributed masks, facilitated the acquisition of other props, as well as the provision of a music band. Traders soon joined the idea with an eye on the best sales, and started to adopt Carnival instead of Entrudo.

In 1870 the loose masked men, stimulated by the police, and the public dances began to gain ground, although the Entrudo was still alive. The atmosphere for the Carnival began to improve with the appearance of the 'Bando Anunciador', which took to the streets inviting everyone to the festivities. In clubs and theaters, competitions arose between groups and families that sported clothing and jewelry to show which associations and entities were more elegant and grand. The pioneer Teatro São João started to organize its balls a year in advance.

In 1878, the street Carnival group, 'Os Cavaleiros da Noite', appeared for the first time in a big hall, at Teatro São João, causing a real 'ti, ti, ti'. Two years later - with a greater number of balls throughout the city - Salvador had 120 thousand inhabitants, who concentrated financial resources and great political power. There was, therefore, money, power and abundance, and all that splendor was then portrayed in the halls and balls of Carnival. Just to give you an idea, the clothes, props, ornaments, hats, drinks, jewelry, shoes and socks used at the parties were imported from the best houses in Paris and London.

At the same time, platforms and music bands proliferated in the city. Several uniformed clubs also appeared, such as 'Zé Pereira', 'Os Comilões' and 'Os Engenheiros', dressed in 'Cabeçorras' and other masks. As the celebrations grew, it was agreed that Campo Grande would be the place for the masked people to gather during Carnival days and, from there, go out in packs. In 1882, commerce started the custom of closing its doors on Tuesday of Carnival, starting at 13 pm. The Carnival of masks and the parade of the clubs, were then, more lively after the 14 hours.

Five years before the Proclamation of the Republic, the city, inhabited by about 170 thousand people, organized its first great street Carnival. It was a party with great European influence, like almost everything that existed in Brazil at that time, with luxury, refinement and complimentary comments. Strongly influenced by the exquisite Carnival of Venice, in Italy, and mixing the presence of types from the popular Carnival of Nice, in France, the Carnival of Salvador took the first step towards popularization with the participation of many people on the streets.


Bahia Carnival (Entrudo) Photo / Reproduction: Public Domain
Bahia Carnival (Entrudo) Photo / Reproduction: Public Domain
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