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Brazil's biggest party underway

Brazil's biggest party underway

Brazil

Rio’s annual dancing mega-bash continued well into Saturday night, boasting colourful costumes and colossal floats

The five-day Sambadrome carnival, which kick started on Friday usually peaks on Sunday and Monday nights.

Eleven second league samba schools competed in a packed 60 000 seat stadium for a spot among the city’s elite group, which will parade on both nights .

Representing the school for the first time was the new Queen of the Drums, who forgot the competition for a while to focus on controlling her nerves.

“It is so exciting entering the Sambadrome with this audience, with this energy. There is so much you have to prepare, and for me preparing my heart for that is the hardest part. You often think you are ready and then you are not, but it will all go fine,” said first-time perfomer Simone Parente,

More than 80 percent of those parading receive their costumes free for attending weekly rehearsals throughout the year and forming an integral part of the school.

Big ensembles however said the city funding – which usually covers most of their costs- has dried up and that private sponsors have also been hard to find.

Australian tourist Carol Alt says she has never seen anything like the event. “First time to South America, first time to Rio, first time to carnival and first time dancing in carnival, so I am very excited,” said Alt.

The festival took place amid fears of the mosquito-borne Zika virus spreading sporadically in that country. The ministry of health says it is investigating 3,670 reported cases of microcephaly. So far 404 cases have been confirmed.

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