São Luiz do Paraitinga
This small town in São Paulo state’s interior is about 115 miles from the capital and only 30 miles down the road from the popular beach resort of Ubatuba. Carnaval went on a 60-year hiatus here starting in the 1920s, when an Italian priest did away with it on moral grounds. But things started up again in 1981, and now the town is known for having one of the best old-fashioned street carnivals around.
An official decree actually prohibits more modern rhythms like samba and axé; the official music genre of the blocos here is the traditional marchinha, or carnival march, which dates back to the 1920s and was a staple of Carnaval through the mid-20th century. Over 1,500 local marchinhas have been composed locally since Carnaval started again, and you’ll hear many of them.
The costumes worn by the blocos are similar to carnivals across the country, with bloco-specific themes, which this year include everything from babies to bus drivers.
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