Reveillon in Rio

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December 31st 2012, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

Happy new year
Happy new year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t we might as well lay down and die

I cannot spend New Year’s Eve at Copacabana without writing a blog post about it in retrospect. Even if I am back home in snowy Oslo now, the Reveillion in Rio will remain a fantastic experience I will remember for years to come. And since Reveillon is a long night, this will also be a looooong blog post. I hope you don’t fall asleep…

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In France, Brazil and Portugal, a réveillon is a long party, held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The name of this dinner is based on the word réveil (meaning “waking”), because participation involves staying awake until midnight and beyond. In Portuguese-speaking countries, it is also for the party preceding the New Year’s Day.

Few places on earth has a bigger New Year’s party than Copacabana. The great star of Copacabana New Year’s Eve is the fireworks! There are 24 tons of fireworks distributed in 11 ferries that goes off into the sky for 16 minutes. In all colors of the rainbow, they create a magnificent view from all over the beach. But wait a minute! I am starting in the wrong end now. Because what is New Year’s Eve all about…? Exactly…

Expectations! 🙂

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We had a very relaxing start of the day, and it was fun to walk around in the streets (closed for cars) and at the beach, watching the many preparations for the mega party. Even better – to feel the Reveillion vibe. Great expectations. For everyone. Curious tourists, policemen at work, beer sellers, flower sellers, young people, old people. It was obvious that people of all kinds were gathering around Copacabana, expecting over 2,5 million people for the celebration.

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Reveillon preparations:

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White hats (and clothes) is the thing to wear on Reveillion. Don’t have a white hat? Don’t worry! There are plenty of opportunities to buy one. Or whatever else you might crave. I am sure you would be able to get it at the streets of Copacabana on Reveillon.

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Yup, even tequila on the go…

Speaking of high expectations. Many times, people have too high expecations for New Year’s Eve. Thus creating a possibility of a big anti-climax when the clock strikes midnight. Noone to kiss. Turkey gone bad. Fog (no fireworks). Too drunk to remember (no fireworks). Blizzard…

At least snow was nothing we had to worry about, with the heatwave in Rio still giving us over 30C in the evenings. As my friend put it: “One of the best things about New Year’s in Rio is that you don’t have to put on layers and layers of clothes to go out and watch the fireworks!” So true. 🙂

What we did worry about was the organizing skills of the Cariocas. After all, we had some prior experience from the airport, ATMs and similar. Were they able to pull a party with 2,5 million visitors off…? Was it going to be a total chaos? Would we be able to see anything at all, besides people’s behinds in our efforts to see the fireworks? Would we get a table outside somewhere? Would it be safe to move around?

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Well, there were obviously going to be guards of different kinds and medical staff present…

As the three great organizers we are (speaking of the femme fatales), we had first arranged with tables in the hotel restaurant as a plan B. This is because we first thought it would be more or less impossible to get a table at a restaurant outside, close to the beach. However it turned out we were completely wrong. We managed to reserve a New Year’s package at Martinez, where we had dined two days earlier. It cost 385R per person, and this included 4 courses, half a bottle of champagne per person and as much wine and drinks as we pleased. And not to forget: Tables outside at Copacabana (Leme side). Hopefully we would be able to see some of the fireworks if the streets were not too crowded.

We canceled the table at the hotel, dressed up in our New Year’s gear and headed off to Martinez with a beer & tequila pitstop on our way. As part of Reveillion there are 4 big stages on Copacabana beach, where live music and DJs play from around 6 in the afternoon until early morning at December 31st. Our restaurant was close to the Leme stage, where DJs were playing R&B, funk and disco. Not a bad sountrack to our celebration at all! From the crowd it seemed as if the main stage (with a wheelchair section with a ramp and an accessible toilet) was more popular.

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Main stage getting crowded early.

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Leme stage had plenty of room at 8 o’clock. Poor DJ!

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Who are these handsome guys and girls…?

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We are the gringos! 😉

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And gringos like champagne!

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Yup, we definitely liked the champagne better than this New Year’s dish…

A reveillion dinner takes a while (to be modest). We were seated at half past 8, next to what we suspected was a gay couple from Russia. And when the clock was getting close to midnight we still had not eaten our main course (tasty sirloin). Food was not the important thing tonight however. Now we could see that even if the sand was getting quite crowded, the street was still possible to move in. We decided to leave the restaurant for a short while and headed into the street. In the background we could hear the DJs counting: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Feliz 2013! Let the fireworks begin! 🙂

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The fireworks had two themes: “Welcome 2013” and “Optimism carioca”. And there were music. And confetti. And people cheering. And kissing. And taking photos. And I will not try to describe it with any more words. You can see it here instead. Or here (in timelapse).

And we had to admit it. Even if we had our doubts…the cariocas DID know how to pull off a Reveillion celebration. Big time.

And the Russian gay guy next to us…? Well, he got his New Year’s kisses for sure. Not with his boyfriend though. But with a Brazillian beauty…

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And the rest of us? And the rest of the night? That’s confidential. But I can say that it turned into a long night. And a happy one. Some experiences richer and some shoes poorer…

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Godt Nytt År! Happy New Year! Feliz Ano Novo!

Thanks to Ingrid for providing me with extra Reveillion photos! If you want to read more (in Norwegian) – check out Grybetrotter’s blog.

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