RIO DE JANEIRO – The crowd at the Blocao Carnival street party Sunday was a decidedly mixed one. Roughly half the revelers were humans, the other half dogs, though the canine contingent was unquestionably the better dressed of the two.
Several hundred revelers of both species turned out for the 11th edition of the Blocao, the most animal friendly of the nearly 500 "blocos," or raucous, heavy-drinking street parties that stop traffic during Rio de Janeiro's Carnival festivities.
Pet owners in flip flops and cutoff shorts and T-shirts paraded down Copacabana beach with packs of pooches sporting smart neckties, pink tutus, jester hats, dashing tuxes fitted with satin capes, and a myriad of other get-ups for four-legged partiers.
The crowd shimmied and wagged, sniffed and sambaed as dogs and owners grooved to a thumping soundtrack of traditional Carnival songs that emanated from the sound truck, itself dressed up as a dog, with a giant blowup black terrier attached to the front.
"I don't usually like blocos for myself, but she's loving it," said Angelica Nieva, the proud owner of a year-old poodle-Yorkie mix, Belinha, dressed in a flowing white wedding gown and demure veil. "She's having the time of her life."
Asked whether the apricot-coated mutt had met any potential suitors to whisk her down the aisle in her immaculate white dress, Nieva replied, "there's nothing serious yet, but we've got a couple of good candidates lined up."
Although Cica is a Blocao veteran, the party never fails to delight the 10-year-old mini-Pinscher, dressed up for the occasion as a Hawaiian in a tangle of green tinsel, her owner Sonia Rainho said.
"I'm too old for blocos, and to be honest Cica is too, but it wouldn't be Carnival without the Blocao," said 78-year-old Rainho, as she cradled Cica, whose buggy eyes were wide with ill-contained delight.
Among the dogs, the atmosphere was nothing less than cordial. Hardly a snarl was heard. Tails wagged nonstop. A dachshund disguised as a hot dog between two foam buns sniffed at a standard poodle flamenco dancer; a dapper terrier in a bow tie courted a yellow lab with delicate fairy wings.
But tensions were running high among the humans after a police officer breaking up a fight at a neighboring street party brandished his pistol in the midst of the thick crowd.
Although the scare and the subsequent sudden summer downpour may have dampened the mood among the humans, the dogs were unfazed and continued to bark along to the music.