Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scala Gay

I'd like to first recognize the chain of events that lead to last night...

If Reece's camera had never gotten stolen, we would have never visited the tourist police station. If we had never visited the tourist police station, we would have never known where Club Scala was located. If we had never known where Scala was, we would have never decided to stop by on a whim the following day to see how much tickets to the Carnival Ball were. And if we had never stopped by on a whim, I would have never tripped on the red carpet in front of a thousand roaring fans.

Last night, we made up big time for not seeing the Samba Parade. Scala, a giant club in the upscale neighborhood of Leblon, hosts marvelous Carnival Balls every year. Each Ball has a theme, from red & black (representing the local futbol team) to bottomless beer. The largest and most popular of them all, buzzing with celebrities, paparazzi and TV reporters, is the Big Gay Scala Ball. Gay and straight, men and women, tranny and otherwise, the most ostentatious of the city come out in their Carnival best for a night of no-holds-barred extravagance. Tickets online were way out of our budget, as were those from local agencies. Luckily, fate and his friends led us to the box office, where we got them for half the quoted price.

We arrived within the first hour of the doors opening, worried we may not actually be allowed in. The streets were already total mahem, city blocks packed with thousands of people. We realized that there was a wide runway in the midst of it all, a red carpet of sorts about two blocks long. Crystal studded, head-dress wearing, over the top characters strolled the length of the walkway as fans screamed and cameras flashed. These people must be famous and/or serious socialites in the city, the way the crowd was crawling over one another to get a better view.

We were confused as to how we would get in, and managed to shove through far enough to show our ticket to a security guard. You better believe it, that red carpet was our entrance. Reece and I shared astonished, nervous looks with one another before sheepishly starting the long walk to the club. I fumbled with my camera, attempting to capture the scene that lay ahead. Distracted, I tripped over a bump in the road and stumbled (catching myself before hitting the ground), and the crowd ROARED. Before that moment, I had no idea that anybody was even looking in my direction. I was dressed pretty tame compared everybody else, and I am after all, um, nobody. I completely thought we could cruise by unnoticed. But in that instant a thousand eyes were on me, walking down a red carpet on the final night of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I couldn't even register embarrassement, it was such a surreal moment. I wish I could have seen my own face. Ha!

The Ball itself was a great time - a massive live samba band, tequila shots, midgets, half-naked guys dancing on pedestals. We had a really good time, and are delighted that we finally rang in Carnival right. The next morning while cleaning up, checking out, and traveling to Santiago, we were not quite so delighted. But it was totally worth it. And way better than that lame old Sambadrome, I'm sure.

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