*the days aren’t actually in order, carnival lasts an entire week. I tried to go everyday and take pics, but living directly on a parade route and crashing at a friends place who lives directly on a crazier parade route made it hard. SO, I’m blogging about Carnival in three different installments because honestly, that’s all I remember.*
Ilê Aiyê my new favorite afro bloco, aka the realest band on earth, let me on their float at their opening reception. Based in Liberdade, one of the largest and historically black neighborhoods in Salvador, their opening night began with a spiritual ceremony that concluded with the release of doves. Beautiful black faces flanked the float dressed in various African inspired prints. This year’s print featured the faces of prominent figures from history like Katherine Dunham, Stokely Carmicheal, Angela Davis, Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire.
The afro reggae sound is known for it’s drums and ability to make you sway . There’s this dance that everyone does here; your shoulders roll forward as your elbows extend while you you step forward or backward to the beat. It only takes one time to see the dance before it becomes the go to move when listening to Ilê Aiyê. The Queen of Ilê Aiyê, (pictured in green) has the awesome job of dancing atop the float as it makes it’s way from Liberdade to Curuzu. Many songs from Ilê Aiyê are about being black and having pride in said blackness.
Ilê Aiyê’s opening reception is why I came to Salvador although I didn’t know it before I came. But being in a crowd of beautifully adorned black people of all shades and hues, chanting lyrics from the song Que Bloco E Esse?
“…e somo bem legal. Temos cabelo duro é só no black power”
My personal translation
we are the shit with our hard (kinky/curly) hair, it’s just our black power.*
*my portuguese is beginner at best, but this is my blog so I say what I want.
There was a moment when everyone was just shouting BEM LEGAL BLACK POWER as we all danced to the drums.
The singers were gracious, the crowd was drama free and I even made a new friend, shai andrade, the band photographer whose work can be viewed here. Overall, my night with Ilê Aiyê was the highlight of Carnival for me.