Cordão da Bola Preta, A Rio Carnival Staple, Turns 101

The traditional street parade is arguably one of the world's largest

Débora Yuri
Carnaval partygoers parade along the traditional Cordão da Bola Preta - Folhapress

Women, beer and Carnaval - most likely, in this exact order.

Those were the main life goals of 18 regulars who met every night at Bar Nacional, in downtown Rio de Janeiro. They were dissidents of one of Rio's main Carnaval clubs in 1918 and wanted to start a Carnaval street parade (later called bloco) of their own.

One night, after the group was already deep in their cups, a woman passed by the sidewalk, wearing a tight dress with black large polka dots.

She sat down at the young men's table and encouraged them to start a parade of their own. Inebriated, one of the lads declared: "Our parade is happening! And its name, in honor of this lady, will be Cordão da Bola Preta (Black Ball Parade)"

A hundred Carnavals later, Rio is no longer Brazil's capital. Bola Preta's muse disappeared before the group had its first parade. But the club created that night is not only still active, but is also arguably one of the biggest Carnaval bloco in the world.  

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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