Technobloco strikes back on the streets of Rio Carnival

February 17, 2018

 

Technobloco? More like Cryptobloco.

The legend of Technobloco spread so far and wide over the past year that it grew with as much hyped up ferocity as Bitcoin. After the hundreds of us there had one of the best nights of our lives 12 months ago, word of the magic of this underground bloco had levels of FOMO so high that thousands of people filled the street for it in the early hours of the final morning of Carnival on Wednesday.

 

All day private messages had been running hot trying to find out the deets for Technobloco. When I found them I sent them to everyone I knew who was keen, it was like finding a precious diamond everyone desperately wanted. As in 2017 the time and location were only sent out a few hours before. At 10pm a simple GIF spread through WhatsApp and private Facebook groups announcing it would start at 1am in Praça da Bandeira, a slightly out-of-the-way suburb in Rio’s north. 

 

 

When we arrived at 1.30am I couldn’t believe it, there were thousands of people already there, lanes of traffic and a footbridge overhead were being swamped and it was obvious this was going to be a sequel well worthy of last year's epic (thanks to Globo for the photo above capturing this). Word eventually dripped through the crowd that the band was gathering about a kilometre away in Quinta da Boa Vista park and with herd mentality everyone started heading there one after the other. A few minutes into this pilgrimage, pictured at the top, and we’d lost half our group because the crowd was so thick and moving so fast. 

 

By 2.30am it was finally on, those familiar notes and rhythms of famous electronic music songs I heard last year were being played again as the huge crowd followed all around the band. Then the running, the signature running of the Technobloco band while they (somehow) keep playing began. The crowd all around then chases after these music masters as a human ring of Technobloco gate-keepers joins hands around them to keep them protected from the madness their music is creating. Look for the big gap in the middle of the crowd in the photos and that's where the band inside the human ring is, it's simple but ingenious.

 

 

Throw in the stilt walkers, LED lights on instruments and in the crowd lighting up the night as well as a police helicopter buzzing around overhead shining its spotlight down to see just what the hell was going on in these quiet suburban streets at 3am and it was an all sensory experience sending everyone into delirium.

 

My friend fired up her Facebook Live to show people back in her southern Brazilian city of Curitiba she was visiting from, whoever was up watching must've been loving the entertainment from their quiet city. Rio is really unlike all the other cities in Brazil, which is something you only catch onto after meeting visiting Brazilians like her who want to escape the boredom of their cities and move to this crazy place. It's a feeling not lost on me in any way.

 

 

After reaching and going up Rio’s giant avenue Presidente Vargas we reached the city where like last year we descended into the traffic tunnel. It was 6am and just minutes before the heavens had opened and rain started pouring down. After being gifted clear scorching hot weather for the previous five days of carnival the timing was like a cleansing moment from the carnival gods. Sometime after 7am, drenched and having run from one end of the city to the other it was time to officially for myself call this year’s Carnival closed. And there was honestly no better way to go out than Technobloco.

 

I woke up to see it on the front page of Brazil’s biggest news website Globo, a whole story devoted to Technobloco and the semi-chaos it caused for motorists in the early hours of the morning as it took over the streets. With official blocos streets are blocked off in preparation and traffic chaos, for the most part, is avoided.

 

But underground blocos like this live outside the rules and eschew this entirely, however it's the middle of the night so the disruption isn't so bad. It's part of the culture of the city and most drivers seem to just roll with it and the police are pretty chilled, that’s Rio for you. But the story also showed the fun people had and gave some insight into how its secretive underground origins worked.

 

 

But sadly I can’t help but feel Technobloco will now be a victim of its own success come Carnival 2019 - too big to stay underground, and like Bitcoin I’m really hoping it doesn’t have a big crash back to Earth as authorities tighten their grip on it. If anything it might have to become an official scheduled event like most of the other big blocos, but this would make it lose its beauty which is that only the faithful and people in-the-know go, and that is now evidently already a huge number.

 

Sitting on a schedule instead of just being announced hours before I can't imagine how many people it would draw. The answer is probably too many because everyone there wouldn't be able to get close enough to the band to hear the music. I hope it stays underground, stays releasing its information just hours before for its out-of-the-way locations and stays for the Technobloco faithful to enjoy in the way we know and love it running through the city streets to the music late into the night. 

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I'm Ian Walker, an Australian freelance journalist and travel writer who ditched his job as a full-time newspaper reporter to move to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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