As experiences go, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival seems a good example, but ¿what does it mean in urban terms?
Leila María da Silva Blass describes in her article “Rompendo as Fronteiras: a cidade do Samba no Río de Janeiro”, published in 2008 in the Revista Brasileira de Ciencias Sociais, a space where the big paraphernalia of the Escolas de Samba is built. It is a kind of industrial compound to produce ephemeral elements, but also a kind of theme park (tourism cruises stop nearby).
About a kilometer south (crossing the railway and the Avenida Presidente Vargas) is the Passarela Professor Darcy Ribeiro (named honoring the ethnologue who promoted the project), best known as the Sambódromo Marqués de Sapucai, built during the 1980s according to Oscar Niemeyer’s project. Along this 550 m space the parade on the central corridor (12 m wide between stands down to the south square) takes two hours on two nights (up to the building of the sambodromo there was just a one night parade). In 2012 the capacity was increased from 60.000 to 72.500. It is a space marked by advertisement, marketing and television, and it will be a venue for the 2016 Olympics.
This is the typical issue: has the Sambodromo created a new monofunctional space in the city, or is the Brazilian pop culture strong enough to trhive even more in this area?. I do not pretend to know the answer (unfortunately, I have never been to Rio), but it is worth seeing again the film “Black Orpheus” (just to mention again greek heros, albeit indirectly…)