Glitter! Funk! Samba! Carnaval’s energy is out of this world. Here are 5 tips to keep you safe and healthy while still partying hard.
1. Wear closed toes shoes
Carnaval is bound to get messy. Glass, pee, and alcohol fill the streets and if there is rain, these risks double. Flash floods are very common in Rio and due to the poor sewage system the water in the streets is extremely contaminated. Luckily, this can all be avoided by wearing the correct shoes: short rain boots with tall socks will help keep your feet dry and clean.
2. Get a thin pochete and wear it under your clothes
Pickpocketing skyrockets during carnaval and it is better to be safe than sorry. Buy a money belt (pochete)! It is a thin fanny pack that can fit under your clothes. Trust me, it’s a life saver that only costs 15 reais. Large crowds, dancing, and alcohol makes it hard to stay alert, so wearing a pochete under your clothes will make carnaval a truly joyous experience. You will be able to dance the night away without a worry in the world.
3. Pay attention to what you drink
Street vendors are everywhere, but remember to be wary of caipirinhas: Brazil’s national drink. Caipirinhas are made with cachaça, a Brazilian white rum, and are a lot stronger than you think. One caipirinha will hit you very fast under the hot sun, so a very important survival tip is to hydrate or diedrate! Boa Noite Cinderela, also known as Rohypnol, circulates even more during carnaval, so never buy a pre-made caipirinha and always watch your drink.
4. Practice Consent: No is NO
The no is NO (Não É Não) feminist movement in Brazil has grown dramatically in the past couple years and now it can be seen almost everywhere during carnaval. Get a free sticker and live by this rule. Sexual assault rates shoot up during carnaval and people will commonly try to grab you for a kiss without your consent. Just remember, your body, your rules. Don’t be intimidated by a language barrier, say não, give a simple push, and walk towards the other direction. This type of body language is universal and consent is key for making your carnaval experience as safe as possible.
5. Avoid large blocos (parties)
The bigger the crowd, the higher the risk, so don’t underestimate smaller blocos. However, if you do decide to take the risk, try to hang out around the edges of the crowd. You will be able to escape easier in the case of an arrestão (mob theft) or an emergency of any kind. The blocos closest to the beach tend to be the most dangerous and the most touristy so try exploring other neighborhoods such as Centro and Flamengo. Blocos in these areas also tend to be more LGBTQ+ friendly.
My last piece of advice is to have fun and make some friends along the way! Brazilians are generally extremely friendly and helpful with directing you towards the best blocos and dance parties. Se divertida! (have fun!)