Back To Top

Psy performs 'Gangnam Style' at Rio Carnival

Under a shower of confetti and with pulsating samba music, portly King Momo on Friday officially kicked off Rio's famed Carnival, a five-day fest that will climax in spectacular weekend parades of top samba schools.

Milton Rodrigues da Silva, the event's symbol of overweight excess, symbolically received a giant key to the city from Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes.

"The time has come to hand over my duties to magnificent King Momo so that the city may have fun under his rule," said Paes, wearing a white panama hat and a collar of blue flowers. "Let there be peace and joy."

"I declare the Rio Carnival open!" responded King Momo, who in real life is a 33-year-old bank teller.

He then hoisted the city key and wowed the crowd with a gracefully executed samba dance in spite of his 150 kilograms (330 pounds).

Flanked by his queen and two princesses, King Momo, resplendent in white suit and shoes, earlier arrived in a vintage Ford convertible at City Hall as a band played "Marvellous City," the official song of Rio.

"Long live the monarchy! Long live the king!," shouted members of his retinue, including a few elderly sambistas wearing their trademark lacquered shoes.

"King Momo represents the madness of the city he rules. Carnival means samba dancing and beer drinking galore, and of course lots of women. Without women, there is no carnival," said 80-year-old Anatalio Isidoro da Silva, a sprightly, lifelong sambista.

Last November, King Momo was crowned king for the fifth year in a row, pocketing $10,000.

His majesty, who says that he plans to keep his crown through 2016, has a punishing schedule.

He must hold court at private events, street parties, and most importantly at the sumptuous parades he will open at the Sambodrome -- the Samba parade ground designed by the late Oscar Niemeyer -- Sunday and Monday night.

The parades will feature Rio's top 12 samba schools competing on floats packed with dancers wearing huge headgear, feathers, sequins, body paint and little else.

Carnival is Brazil's most important festival and elaborate celebrations are staged across the country, including in cities like Sao Paulo, Salvador, Recife, Olinda, Manaus and Porto Alegre.

As is customary, Salvador -- Brazil's third largest city and the heart of the rich Afro-Brazilian culture -- led the way Thursday night, with hundreds of thousands of revelers pouring into the streets to dance and party.

On his arrival in the Bahia state capital, South Korea's "Gangnam Style" rapper Psy posted a picture of himself on Twitter with the message "Hello Salvador."

South Korean singer Psy smiles at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on February 9, 2013. (AFP)
South Korean singer Psy smiles at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on February 9, 2013. (AFP)

He was due to perform later Friday with top Brazilian singers Claudia Leitte and Gilberto Gil at the start of the Salvador Carnival, which attracts two million annually and is often described as "the biggest street party in the world."

The Brazilian Carnival this year is paying a special tribute to Koreans to mark the 50th anniversary of their immigration to the country.

Samba schools in Rio and Sao Paulo will honor the contribution of the 50,000-strong Korean community has made to this vibrant and racially diverse country of 194 million people.

But not everybody was in a festive mood.

At Rio airport, feminist activists staged a topless protest against sexual tourism, chanting "Brazil is not a whorehouse" and "sex tourists go home" as tourists disembarked from a flight from Italy.

"We are protesting because during Carnival, sexual tourism goes up 30 percent," said 20-year-old Sara Winter, head of the Brazilian branch of Femen, a feminist movement founded in Ukraine in 2008 with the aim of combating machismo, sexual exploitation and sexual tourism.

Femen's Brazilian branch has 20 members, including eight in a newly-opened Rio office.

Authorities meanwhile said six million people, including more than 900,000 tourists, were expected to attend the five-day Rio extravaganza.

Some 12 elite samba schools are competing for the title of Rio Carnival champion in a dazzling contest watched with the same fervor as football matches in this soccer-mad nation.

One school will pay tribute to BossaNova composer Vinicius de Moraes, co-author of the classic hit "The Girl from Ipanema."



싸이 '강남스타일' 브라질 통했다

'월드 스타' 싸이(본명 박재상·36)가 브 라질에서도 상당한 인기몰이를 할 것으로 기대된다.

일간지 폴랴 데 상파울루를 비롯한 브라질의 주요 언론은 9일(현지시간) 싸이의 브라질 방문 소식과 활동 내용을 자세히 전했다.

싸이는 전날 밤 북동부 바이아 주의 주도(州都)인 살바도르에서 열린 카니발 축 제에 참가했다.

싸이는 브라질 톱 여가수 클라우지아 레이치 등과 함께 무대에 올라 글로벌  히 트곡 '강남스타일'을 불러 축제 분위기를 한껏 고조시켰다. 대서양 해변을 따라  거 리를 가득 메운 축제 참가자들은 '강남스타일'의 강렬하고 흥겨운 비트에 맞춰 일제 히 말춤을 따라 추며 열광했다.

브라질 언론은 "한국인 래퍼 싸이가 종전에 살바도르 카니발 축제에서 볼 수 없 던 색다른 분위기를 연출해 엄청난 갈채를 받았다"고 전했다.

테하(Terra) 등 뉴스포털들은 싸이가 살바도르에서 참가한 행사와 공연 소식 등 을 거의 실시간으로 전하면서 큰 관심을 보였다. '강남 스타일'의 유튜브 조회 수가 12억 건을 돌파해 역대 최다 조회 동영상에 오른 사실도 빼놓지 않았다.

싸이는 살바도르 공연에 앞서 한 기자회견에서 "카니발은 열광 그 자체다. 축제 분위기를 더 뜨겁게 달구려고 왔다"고 말했다.

공연을 마치고 나서는 자신의 트위터에 "남은 일생 삼바의 에너지를 결코 잊을 수 없을 것"이라면서 "살바도르 공연은 매우 감동적이었다"는 글을 올려 첫 브라질 방문 소감을 팬들에게 전했다.

싸이는 지난달 글로보 TV의 버라이어티 프로그램인 '판타스티코'(Fantastico)에 출연해 브라질 공연을 위한 협의가 진행되고 있다고 밝힌 바 있다.

싸이는 살바도르에 이어 9일에는 리우데자네이루 시를 방문해 밤 8~10시 삼바 전용경기장인 삼보드로모(Sambodromo)에서 펼쳐지는 퍼레이드를 참관할 계획이다.

전날 밤 공식 개막한 브라질 카니발 축제는 오는 12일까지 계속된다.  상파울루 와 리우에 있는 삼보드로모에서는 10일 올해 한인 이민 50주년을 맞아 한국을  테마 로 한 퍼레이드도 선보인다.