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Feature: Carnival in Ouro Preto, Brazil

Fan Girl at Carnival

Fan Girl at Carnival




The historic college-town does Brazilian Carnival like no other. 

By: Sarah J. Montoro

Ouro Preto, Brazil


Taking place just before Lent, Brazilian Carnival was traditionally celebrated as a last hurrah for tasting earth’s un-heavenly delights before a 48 day stretch of piety and repentance.


While Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Olinda are famous for their elaborate parades and Samba schools, the historic college town of Ouro Preto is famous for its inland beauty and the spirited youth of its population. No one celebrates vice quite like college kids.


Some people critique the city as a monument to human contradictions, which are often as outstanding in their beauty as they are unsettling. On every rolling green hill in a 360 degree view looms a baroque church festooned in gold cherubs, intricate altar pieces, and — my favorite — golden ducks dangling chandeliers from their beaks! But these beautiful edifices are haunted by the city’s slave history and bloody political past.


In the cobblestone streets below the churches, college students from the Federal University of Ouro Preto and surrounding cities dress up in glittery animal masks and cartoon character costumes. Men especially love to dress up, and the most popular and well put together outfits are almost always done in drag. We’re talking perm wigs, high heels, feather boas (I mean, who doesn’t feel sexy wrapped in a hot pink feathered boa?), miniskirts, and frilly bra-panty combos under fishnet body suits. It’s hard to tell whether partiers are mocking contradictions, celebrating them, or simply using the occasion to wear their girlfriends’ favorite see-through teddy, however it’s clear that the duality of human nature — the good and evil, the masculine and feminine — has been called into question.


Between the spontaneous explosions of beer cans and drum processions I somehow managed to capture a few photos of college kids all dressed up for a night of debauchery in Ouro Preto Carnival 2012.


Photography by Sarah J. Montoro



*Born in Los Angeles California, Sarah is a writer, wonderer, and lover of shiny things. She currently lives and works in various cities throughout Brazil. You read her thoughts at http://smontmonster.tumblr.com/



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