The beginning of Carnaval with Escola de Samba Batucaje
10:56 am Monday May 30, 2011
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Jacque Barnes as Porta Bandeira for Escola de Samba Batucaje in Carnaval 1980. The 100-member group took first place for best contingent that year and set the standard for Carnaval contingents for years to come. Photo Courtesy Rick Telesforo

The massive contingent celebrated its third consecutive Grand Champion Award. The scaffold-based stage nearly collapsed from the intense gyrations of all the dancers. Photo Courtesy Rick Telesforo

The response was overwhelming as many local dancers and musicians flocked to the Precita Arts Community Center for a chance to learn Brazilian culture from an authoritative source: Brazilian-born Director Jose Lorenzo, who had very little competition at that time and had already established himself with his Batucaje Dance Company.

Some notable individuals who auditioned that day were Dennis Broughton, who now is the organizer of the annual Brazil Music Camp, and a shy teenager named Carlos Aceituno who went on to found the dance group Fogo na Roupa.

As a former member of the Brazilian national dance troupe “Viva Bahia,” Jose Lorenzo wanted to emphasize the traditional elements of Brazilian culture in his dance wings (sections). These were the Baiana, Pastora, and Cabrocha wings.

The Baiana wing is a mandatory component in every Samba School. One of the best Baiana wings ever was in Escola Nova de Samba’s 1993 contingent. The innovative and original costume design and their perfect choreography stood out among all other dance sections. Photo Courtesy Rick Telesforo

Dressing his dancers in glittery bikinis and feathers, as is commonly done today, was not in his original plans.

Musically, Jose was primarily a dancer who could drum, so building a Bateria was new to him. He built a 40-piece percussion ensemble that was essentially an expanded batucada.
After four months of frantic costume building and rehearsing three times a week, the new Escola de Samba Batucaje was ready for the parade.

One of the dancer’s Capp Street apartment became “Samba Central” when the entire contingent met there to change into their fantasias (costumes).

After working for four months, they transformed into sambistas in their full regalia and the contingent made a huge splash, setting standards for music, costume, and choreography.

The choice for the First San Francisco Carnaval Parade Grand Champion was an easy one for the event judges: Escola de Samba Batucaje!

These photos span many of the early years of San Francisco Carnaval up through the early 1990’s. ¡Viva Carnaval!