Updated on Feb.1, 2014
Love for street Carnival and love of place - Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas - are at the core of Spanta Neném ("Scare Baby"), one of the best blocos, or Carnival groups, in Rio de Janeiro.
All the bloco's events are in the pre-Carnival season. Spanta is known for its parade by the lagoon, always with excellent musicians and an easygoing atmosphere; its great pre- and post-parade parties; and its music and tutoring project for kids at Santa Marta, one of Rio's favelas, where the group also hosts Morro de Alegria, a monthly samba party with food by some of Rio de Janeiro's best bars (see below).
The parades are well organized, with portable restrooms provided by Spanta Neném besides the ones provided by the Rio de Janeiro administration (in Carnival 2011, there were 60 portable restrooms in all).
Spanta Neném is a non-profit organization and proceeds help maintain their music school at Santa Marta, which offers guitar, percussion and other music lessons as well as school tutoring to 100 favela children. Some of them participate in the group's percussion band during Carnival parades. The school also helps create jobs in the favela, since all instructors come from the Santa Marta community.
The bloco has a version for young kids: Spantinha (or "Little Spanta"), which hosts its own parties, packed with fun activities, and Carnival events.
Spanta Neném songwriters have created several signature Carnival songs and the group. In the 2012/2013 season, Spanta launched a new band: Chupeta Elétrica.
2014 Schedule Parades:
Keep up with the latest on the group's Facebook page.
Morro de Alegria Parties:
Santa Marta, on the Dona Marta hill in Botafogo, is one of the Rio de Janeiro favelas which has a UPP (Police Pacifying Unit) to push away drug barons. Spanta Neném's Morro de Alegria (a play on words meaning both "Hill of Joy" and "I Burst with Joy") is a party meant to create a greater interaction between the favela community, residents from Rio's hip South Side and other neighborhoods, and Brazil and international tourists.
The favela has its own samba school - Mocidade Unida do Santa Marta. Their headquarters are the venue for this party with fantastic samba (curated by journalist and music critic João Pimentel) and a culinary event curated by Guilherme Studart, author of Rio Botequim, a Rio de Janeiro bar guide.
Aconchego Carioca and Bar da Gema are some of the bars which have brought their fare to the party.
The very steep hill has its own mountain incline, and visitors can take it, with local guides, to the rooftop where Michael Jackson recorded a few scenes of his "They Don't Care About Us" video (mainly recorded in Pelourinho, Salvador, with Olodum). In June 2010, a statue of Michael Jackson designed by Ique was inaugurated on the rooftop, which also has a Michael Jackson mosaic panel by Romero Britto.
The party starts at 4 p.m. and ends at about midnight (a UPP curfew). Tickets (price: R$30) can usually be purchased at the Shell gas station at Rua Sao Clemente 295, Botafogo. You can get to the party by taxi.
Check dates for the next party on the Spanta Neném website.