A long, long time ago, Carnival in Porto Alegre was a street party – a democratic event when all you needed was to be in the mood for some innocent fun. It was cheap and safe.
And then it got a bit dangerous. Revellers started hiding inside the clubs. Carnival parties became a business involving big bucks.
And then it became a working class afair. It went back to the communities – at that time though, it was not politically incorrect to call them favelas.
And then it became tacky. Something to be enjoyed by the masses, not by oh-so sofisticated college students or their rich parents.
‘Nobody’ would hear about it anymore. It died (or at least, for inner city dwellers).
And then one day, not long ago, someone missed the innocent fun, someone was nostalgic for a time that didn’t belong to us, they wanted to live what their grandparents lived.
A new street block party was created. And then another one, and another one.
There is an informal movement in Porto Alegre, residents are super keen to reclaim public spaces. I am talking privileged locations, which unfortunately have become dangerous spots, or territory of street beggars.
Such movement is shaking the city at its core, thanks to the speed of communication in social media; a pic nic can easily become a 1500-people gathering, an under-the-bridge art event can be a family day. Word spreads and suddenly everyone is spending an evening in a park previously doomed as dangerous after dark.
It is gaining momentum with Carnival and I am very thankful for that. I am here just watching, being a mere expectator but I am very proud of being part of it in a way.
(no Historical accuracy checked in the making of this post)