A tradition of the Minas Gerais capital’s street carnival are the blocks created by fans to honor their idols. Among the approximately 500 blocks that will parade this year, at least 12 honor artists and bands that have made and are making history in the musical hall of fame in Brazil and the world and have that special place in the hearts of revelers. From Raul Seixas to the queen of shorties, including David Bowie and the Beatles, there is no shortage of blocks in the capital’s carnival dedicated to successful singers and composers.
One of the oldest in this regard is Toca Raul Agremiação Psicodélica. Created from a meeting of friends who studied together, it paraded for the first time in 2011. “We felt the need to occupy the streets of Belo Horizonte, which was going through a tumultuous moment with the Márcio Lacerda administration and its absurd decrees, so it was a way of political action”, says one of the founders, Ricardo Lanza, 50 years old, video editor and finisher, referring to decisions by Belo Horizonte City Hall that made it difficult for the population to occupy public spaces.
Toca Raul maintains the challenge of its foundation, which was the hallmark of its honoree, and parades without sponsorship, putting the block on the streets every year with the support of fans and members of the block itself that parades on Saturday to prevent the gray comes in the post-party hangover. In Lanza’s assessment, there has always been conflict between the public authorities and the blocks that to this day, with the growth of the party and the commodification of the party, remain unheard by him. “We were never important to the public authorities, so the public authorities are not important to us either”.
The Abre-te Sésamo block also pays homage to the crazy beauty Raul Seixas who, according to people, didn’t like carnival, despite having performed, alongside Wanderléa, in 1978, several marchinhas for a television program. Founded in 2016, the name of the block is a reference to the song of the same name composed by Raul and Cláudio Roberto, his partner in other great hits such as Maluco Beleza, a hit always played in the block. Di Souza, conductor of Abre-Te Sésamo, says that the idea for the block came from a joke between friends, which reverberated in the block’s debut in 2016.
Since then, Abre-te Sésamo has continued with its procession every pre-carnival Friday in the center of Belo Horizonte, drawing a crowd of Raulseixistas who are almost brought to tears when the procession opens the parade with “Ave Maria da Rua”, by the duo Raul and Paulo Coelho. “We believe in the importance of keeping Raul Seixas’ work alive so that society remains attentive, alive and strong! We connect with his restlessness and consider ourselves the fruit of his work”, says Di Souza, who also conducts the block’s drums Then Shine.
queen of rock
The idea of paying homage to Rita Lee, the queen of Brazilian rock, by creating a carnival block named after one of her albums, came up at the end of 2022, during a party with friends, but as there was no time to organize a parade that year following year, the singer’s fans decided to debut in this year’s festivities. The Fruto Proibido block – the same name as the rocker’s classic album, released in 1975, and which has hits such as “Agora Só Falta Você” and “Esse tal de Roque Enrow”, a partnership between Rita Lee and Paulo Coelho – parades tomorrow, with concentration from 8am, in Vila Dias, in the Santa Tereza neighborhood.
Without official sponsorship, the group counts on the support of Rita Lee’s fans to parade for the first time. The first procession has as its motto a theme very dear to Rita Lee, who passed away in May 2023, freedom. For Tati Santana, 45 years old, engineer and vocalist of the band, the singer and composer was the “patron saint of freedom” in music. “Including women’s sexual freedom,” she says.
But this is not the only band to pay homage to the queen of Brazilian rock. Initially created as a music band, a year before the singer’s passing, the group Escolhas da Rita, after her death, also became a carnival group that parades for the first time this year, on 16/2, with its drums called FavoRita.
The Românticos São Loucos block pays homage to the singer and composer from Minas Gerais Vander Lee, who left prematurely, in 2016, at the age of 50, victim of heart problems, and brings together those revelers who cry for love, “without shame and without sense”. The group, which parades for the fifth time in Santa Tereza on 02/11, was created by fellow musician Marcos Catarina, Vander Lee’s brother. He says that after his brother’s passing, as a way of honoring his legacy and the love he he was passionate about the party, so much so that Vander Lee held the Romantic Ball every Carnival, the block was created.
“He had this carnival thing, so much so that he composed a lot of sambas, a lot of plot sambas as a composer, just like me, from Escola de Samba Cidade Jardim, in addition to his well-known romantic ballads, he wrote a lot of carnival songs”, says Catarina.
One of the most popular Brazilian singers and composers, also known by the nickname King, whose successes cross generations, is also the subject of a group that emerged in 2018, in the Alto dos Pinheiros neighborhood, northwest of the city. Named Chega o Rei, he reinterprets Roberto Carlos’ hits to the sound of Afro-Brazilian rhythms. “It’s a combination that excites revelers and those who participate in this street party, which involves valuing the culture and people of the place”, says music therapist Bruno Titio, 42 years old, who also plays at Chama o Síndico, a tribute to Tim Maia and Jorge Ben Jor. The block, says Titio, one of the founders of Chega o Rei, has, in addition to a band, a diverse and inclusive drum kit. Chega ao Rei parades on Carnival Tuesday at 10 am in the Alto dos Pinheiros neighborhood.
But it is only national musicians who are revered by the capital’s Momesque festival. For nine years, the Ziriggydum Stardust block has presented the classics of the most androgynous and, perhaps, carnivalesque British rocker. David Bowie, who passed away in 2016, to the rhythm of samba, xote and funk. It parades on Saturday, 2/17, after Ash Wednesday, closing the city’s last carnival weekend.
The name of the block is a play (and an irony) on the song “Ziggy Stardust”, a criticism of the cult of celebrity and the destructive side of fame. “We decided to pay homage to him in the year of his departure because in addition to really liking his music, we think he is a mega carnival artist. Throughout his career, David Bowie created characters, dressed up and we really saw a link between all of this and Carnival.
Our drum kit is a plate full of costumes inspired by characters that Bowie created”, says Alisson Villa, one of the group’s founders. For this year’s parade, the group prepared a surprise for revelers, in addition to songs by Bowie, and also Prince, George Michael and Fred Mercury, always present in the procession, Ziriggydum will also play some songs that were successful in Rita’s voice. Lee and Gal Costa.
This year’s carnival in the capital will also feature blocks that pay homage to Clara Nunes (two in fact), Belchior, the queen of the shorties, Xuxa, the Beatles and Gilberto Gil.
Check out the blocks and parade dates below:
Open up Sésamo (Raul Seixas)
02/02 – 7pm
Rio Branco Square, Center
Forbidden Fruit (Rita Lee)
02/03 – 8am
Rua Conselheiro Rocha 1519, Vila Dias
Andacunfé (Gilberto Gil)
02/03 – 9am ANDACUNF9
Pirite Street, Santa Tereza
Besourinhos Block (Beatles)
4/02 – 9:30 am
Rua Maria Ignez 30, Floresta
Call the Manager (Tim Maia and Jorge Ben)
7/02 – 6pm
Afonso Pena Avenue
02/10 – 2pm
Avenida dos Andradas 3560, Pompéia
The King Arrives (Roberto Carlos)
03/13 – 10am
Rua Frei Conceição Veloso, 213 – João Pinheiro
Rita’s Stuff (Rita Lee)
02/16 – 7pm
Avenida Bernardo Monteiro, 1567, Employees
Ziriggydum Stardust (David Bowie)
02/17 – 8am
Zamenhof Square, Forest
Toca Raul Psychedelic Association
02/17 – 12pm
Avenida Olegário Maciel 474 – center
Clara’s Daughters (Clara Nunes)
02/18 – 13:30
Avenida Clara Nunes, 88, Renascença
Lua Cristal Block (Xuxa)
02/18 – 9am
Rua Arão Reis 570, center
Map of BH blocks
See the date, location and parade time of the BH 2024 carnival street blocks on this interactive map updated daily. Download the map of BH carnival blocks to follow the hundreds of free parades on the streets of the capital of Minas Gerais.