William K. Wolfrum's picture

    The Road to Carnival 1: There will be dancing

    This was originally posted at William K. Wolfrum Chronicles on Jan. 27, 2009

    To say I’m at a crossroad in my life is a vast understatement. In fact, it would be more correct to say that I’m off the road entirely. The loss of my Mom has left me with a void that just can’t be filled, and will have to be worked around to the best of my abilities. My career, while occasionally full of bells and whistles, maintains its pace of consistent stagnation. Not that I much care at the moment. I keep working because that’s what I think I should do. But there’s truly a numbness in me that has taken over.

    But life continues on, and I try and focus on the positive. Such as my loving wife, Emilia, who stood by me throughout an oft-turbulent 2008, as she’s stood by me for more than a decade. She is truly a miracle. But she has decided that she will no longer stand by me. The time for standing is over. It’s time to dance.

    Call me Samba Bill.

    In less than a month, Emilia and I will travel to Rio de Janeiro, where we’ll take part in the 2009 Carnival celebration. We will be part of the parade for the Imperatriz Leopoldinense Samba School in Rio’s grand Sambódromo. Just to give you a quick idea what this means, here is where we’ll be performing:


    And here’s what I’ll be wearing:

    Samba outfit

    Oh yeah, and I’ll need to samba my ass off for the entire, hour-plus-long presentation. And no, as a matter of fact, I can’t samba a lick. And neither can Emilia, thus disproving the theory that all Brazilians samba out of the birth canal.

    So, we have begun taking samba lessons. Thus far we’ve taken one. My entire samba arsenal consists of the fact that I can walk forward and backward to the count of Um, dois, treis. Um, dois, treis … . More or less. But let me tell you, as someone who has never had a dance lesson before, the fact that I can do that is like winning Dancing with the Stars.

    We’re taking this seriously, though. Carnival demands our best effort. Because in Brazil, there are 360 days where life is mass chaos. But during Carnival, the nation becomes a well-oiled machine. Brazil becomes a South American Sweden. And we’re taking it seriously for ourselves, as well. We are less than a month away from being part of one of the biggest shows on the planet and we want to do well and enjoy ourselves. And while there’s trepidation, there is also excitement at being part of this amazing spectacle.

    So now, I have to think of the samba for a couple hours every day. And that gives my mind a little time off from missing my Mom. And it gives me more time to appreciate my wife. Because while I don’t know where my life will take me, I know that with Emilia at my side, there will be dancing. Oh yes, there will be dancing.



    I fell in love with samba about ten years ago in Chicago when we would go to see the same band every week and dance for hours. At first, I watched the samba in awe, thinking I'd never get it and just dancing however I wanted. Then, one day, it magically clicked. So, my advice to you is keep at it and don't think about it too much. It's awesome that you're going to be in the parade. I've only experienced Carnaval in Salvador, but someday I'll be in Rio too!!

    I should move the dislaimer to the top, this is from last year - I've already been there ;)

    I figured you'd already been there. Who would live in Brazil and not go to Carnaval? That would be silly. But performing in the parade with an actual Samba School? That's so cool (but don't tell Genghis I said that because I'll deny it).

    Hey O, I heard that you think Samba School is cool. Insofar as my sense of self-worth depends on your approval of my leisure activities, that means a lot.

    So I guess that means a lot.

    Speaking of deep, dark secrets, I have a confession to make: I used to teach Samba lessons to little old ladies (and occasionally the not-so-old lady) to help pay my way through college. I suppose there were worse ways to pay the bills. (Actually, I had a lot of fun. Those little old ladies could be quite a riot, and boy did they have some stories to tell.)

    There will be pain.

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