El Frevo, the rhythm of Recife
In Portuguese it comes from ‘ferver’, which means to boil. That’s because when you dance to this rhythm it’s as if your body were boiling: you can’t stop moving. It’s fast and frenetic and in el frevo you find a mixture of very different styles such as African percussion and the polka.
The festivities begin with a parade presided over by a rooster that is over 30 metres high. With its crest covered in sequins, the rooster turns in circles to watch the hundreds of people dancing around it. Thanks to the two million people who attend it, the “Galo da Madrugada” (the rooster of the early hours) appears in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest parade in the world. These two million people will not stop dancing in the three days of the carnival. The contagious rhythms of the ‘tríos eléctricos’, a kind of truck/float with live music, drive through the city from the beach of Boa Viagem. The samba mixes with regional melodies, percussion and trumpets… coloured wigs and incredibly strange fancy dress costumes complete the scene. In the streets of the old quarter are the bands responsible for providing the music. The small coloured umbrellas spinning very quickly between the arms and legs of the dancers who effortlesly follow the beat, is an eye-catching sight.
Tradition is especially strong in the Night of the Silent Drums, one of the most emotional events of Recife Carnival. This is a homage to African slaves that died in captivity and is held at the Patio de Tercio outside the church in the early hours of Monday morning. The Maracatu groups, an Afro-Brazilian music with religious touches that is traditional in this region, remember ancestors as they know best: with rhythm and joy. At midnight the lights are turned off and the drums are solemnly silenced. The pause lasts only a few minutes and then the songs and the percussion start up again. The party continues.