RIO DE JANEIRO – Making out at one of Rio de Janeiro's alcohol-soaked Carnival street parties just got a little easier, with the debut Monday of a party dedicated to the hookup app Tinder.
The brainchild of a 28-year-old publicist who says he's "met lots of nice people on Tinder," the "Match Comigo" street party aims to introduce a high-tech edge to the Carnival's fleeting romances.
With its topsy-turvy underpinnings and anything-goes attitude, Brazilian Carnival has always been fertile terrain for liaisons. With the renaissance in recent years of popular Carnival street parties, known in Portuguese as "blocos," Rio's five-day-long Bacchanalia is the epicenter of flings. This year, the city will host more than 450 blocos, where up to a million barely clad bodies defy the subtropical heat to press together into a sweaty, beer-guzzling, random stranger-kissing mass of humanity.
Couple that Carnival libidinousness with another Brazilian passion, social media, and you have an explosive mix. Brazilians are among the top users of Facebook, and the founder of Tinder, a popular dating app, said in an interview last April that it already had 10 million users in the country.
"People go crazy during Carnival and everyone hooks up with as many people as possible," said Fernando de Almeida, a 27-year old web designer who was among several hundred costumed revelers at "Match Comigo," which literally translates as "match with me."
"Tinder basically allows you to do the same thing, so this bloco is turbo-charged."
While many of Rio's street parties date back decades, the idea for "Match Comigo" hatched just a couple weeks ago, when publicist Diogo Parreira and a few friends jokingly set up what he called a "fake," Tinder-themed bloco on Facebook.
The online response was resounding, Parreira said, adding "and I thought, what if we made this happen for real?"
For reveler Marcelo Leal, Tinder itself proved superfluous at Monday's bloco.
"I've mostly been in relationships during Carnival, so now that I'm single I've been trying to take advantage," said the 24-year-old, adding that he and two male friends had a friendly competition going to see who would prove most successful with the ladies. "The numbers aren't set in stone, but I've been averaging about three or four hookups a day — without any help from the app."
Follow Jenny Barchfield on Twitter: @jennybarchfield