Share your favorite Carnaval stories with us, no matter how wild, insane or embarrassing!
We know couples have met at Carnaval and later gotten married and certainly children have been conceived afterward, if not during. Maybe you braved the icestorm of 1989 or the snow and sleet of 1980. Fill us in with the details. You can sign them if you wish, or remain anonymous. But send us an email by filling out the form below and we will compile the best and post them on this site to share with others. Bring it on!
A 5-Star review from Yelp/Austin
Submitted by: Keri B
I know it’s an event but it’s annual sooo if anyone is curious about this party and does a little research here, let me shed some light (it’s okay, I won’t illuminate the darkest corners!). Imagine if a gay bar Halloween party and a strip club Halloween party were to have a baby….no, imagine if Mardi Gras had a super sexy, blatantly flirtatious Latino cousin…..no, imagine that dream you have with all the sexy demons and angels and they all want to have sex with you. Yeah, put all that together and you can get an idea.
I’ve been going to this party for almost 15 years and I never get tired of it. Not only is it about the costumes and the flirting, but it’s also about the incredible music. Every year they get a nationally known Brazilian Samba band to play the stage, but lately they have also used Austin’s own Academicos da Opera which I think is even better cause they get right down on the floor in a huge drum circle. This music is intoxicating (which is great cause it’s damn hard to get a drink here—lines too long). You cannot stop dancing and at the end of the night you get that all over warm body relaxation that you get after a great workout or even better sex.
But if you are an exhibitionist or a voyeur or if you are not afraid of a large crowd of these, then this is your party. To get anywhere in the crowd, you have to get in a conga line and next thing you know, you are swept away with a bunch of fun-loving strangers to god knows where. And costumes! I am always awed by the work that goes into this event. From feathers and beads to leather and chains. Drag queens and dominatrixes. Fairies and well, fairies. Body painting to body stockings. It’s all here and it doesn’t mind being seen and photographed and danced with. Sigh. I always have a bit of post-Carnaval depression.
So, don’t be scared. You are really missing out if you let your fears hold you back. True of Carnaval and of life.
Early Carnaval Stories: Pre-1978
Submitted by: Fred Goodwin
I read with great interest your history of Carnaval in Austin.
I was a UT student in from Sep ’73 until May ’77. It was my great pleasure to attend the ’76 and ’77 Carnavals at the Bucket and at Dobie. I lived off-campus during the 74-75 school year and so was not aware of the inaugural Carnaval in ’75 or I might’ve attended that one too!
As part of the ’77 Carnaval at Dobie, I provided some of the stereo equipment that was woefully inadequate to pump up the volume needed to keep the party spirit going. I don’t know what happened to the original equipment, but the organizers couldn’t get it to work, so I volunteered to loan them my personal receiver (I was an RA in Jester East at the time, so it was no problem walking my equipment back and forth). At some point, either the original equipment began working or someone else brought in a bigger receiver / amplifier.
I also attended a later Carnaval at the Coliseum, sometime in the early 80s (it might’ve been ’81 or ’82). But it wasn’t the same for me, because I was friends with many of the Brazilians who came to UT in ’76 and ’77. As an RA, I got to know many of them and was quite close to a few (I traded letters with several of them for many years before I finally lost track of them). Not knowing anyone at the 80s Carnaval, it wasn’t as much fun for me.
But I’m glad the Austin community has embraced this pre-Lenten festival. I don’t know if its worth adding to your history page, but the Brazilians were in Austin in the 70s thanx to YFU (“Youth for Understanding”), a foreign exchange program.
I fondly remember taking some of the “kids” (most were in fact a year or older than us UT students) to the Anna Hiss Women’s gym in the middle of winter to do some swimming (I don’t recall why we couldn’t swim at Gregory). The few UT students who were there were shocked by the thong bikinis (“tangas”) the Brazilian girls wore. The Brazilian girls didn’t think anything of it, as that’s what they wore back home, but this was the first time I’d ever seen a thong, and I suspect that was the case for most of the Americans. In any event, the YFU RAs told the Brazilian girls they would not be allowed to wear their tongas to Anna Hiss anymore. As might be expected, the Jester guys took great exception to that pronouncement!
I don’t remember whether it was the ’76 group or the ’77 group, but one of the girls married the men’s director of Jester East. After I left UT, I started graduate school at NTSU in Sep ’77. I was pleasantly surprised to find several of the Brazilian kids had relocated there on some sort of temporary visa. But for whatever reason, we weren’t as close in Denton as we were in Austin, and drifted apart,
Anyway, thanx for letting me ramble — your webpage brought back many fond memories. I hope you have another wonderful Carnaval — as a married father of two, I’m afraid I won’t be going, but I’ll be there in spirit!
San Antonio, TX
Carnival Brasileiro in Austin
Submitted by: Tom King, Jr.
I really cannot recommend strongly enough the annual “Carnival Brasileiro” event in Austin, Texas. The music is outstanding and the atmosphere incomparable to anything in Texas.
I never really had an interest until my wife modeled a pair of blue-spangled hotpants for me, explaining that they were intended for the Brazilian dance party. I was sold. She knocked herself out on a mermaid headpiece. In the parking garage a gang of Brazilians pointed at her and yelled, “chapeau, chapeau!” Inside, about 50 people accosted her personally to take her pic. Each received in return one plastic cocktail mermaid. Did I ever mention, Gents, if you ever pick a partner, try to pick one much smarter than you?
Of course I did the typically masculine thing and waited I waited till the last second and half-assed it. I copped my pirate gear at Party Pig (eyepatch, tricorn hat, and clip-on earring) and Goodwill (white ladies blouse with a fake pearl trim and buttons, shoulder-pads removed.) Then I mangled a pair of perfectly good dress slacks with a pair of pinking shears for the higher cause. Then we added one fake beard.
Fake buckles hotglued to my shoes, Nicaraguan Rum safely ensconced inside the painted copper cane we fabricated for the occasion, I was ready: I looked okay and I was packing booze.
Friends, no words can prepare you for the sweaty and surging humanity of the event. Like the harvest festival, Halloween, Carnival is a festival of the flesh and its pleasures. The human flesh itself, male and female, is ubiquitously naked. The freak, the brute, the middling and sublime; the perv, the predator and the lonely guy taking pics for subsequent delight — more than you really wanted or expected to see, you see. The timid man separated from his date (his wife!) might not find her soon: he better learn how to dance.
You better learn how to dance.
Corollary: if you walk around normally, you get nowhere. But if you dance, people will get out of your way. Also, make yourself skinny. Do a meringue step, and shake your a** like it matters.
The meek and mild will find their meekness and humility no match for the party’s involutions: it will draw you in, only to spew you back again at a time of its own choosing, like Jonah in the Leviathan.
Take it from “not a party guy:” Carnival Brasileiro is not to be missed.
Romance springs forth at Carnival Brasileiro
Submitted by: Karen Simpson
Okay… here it is… 🙂 The story of the P&K Show
February 1996… I had been going to Carnaval every year for a few years at that point. Every year, I would select a color and make a costume and a mask. In 1996 the color was purple. The mask was purple felt with green, purple and silver feathers. The costume was a pair of purple and green genie pants and a purple satin bra. I had recently broken up with a guy that I had been seeing… and just the day before I had returned from working for a week in Salt Lake. I was excited about Carnaval and was ready to go. Unlike years in the past, I went alone… and made the decision not to drink.
At that same time, three friends had reconnected at an Army training school down at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. One of the three friends was from Austin, so the three guys would spend their weekends in Austin hanging out and partying. On that particular weekend, they just happened to go to Carnaval. Not having costumes, they painted each other with crayola markers in multi-colored “camo” patterns and went to the party topless in jeans.
At Carnaval, three really buff guys with ultra short hair in multi-color body paint were pretty hard to miss. Of course, it was also Austin and Carnaval… so I assumed they were gay. However, nice looking guys are still fun to watch, gay or not. So, throughout the evening, I sort of kept my eye on them. They seemed to be having fun. At one point in the evening, I ventured to “the back” to get some air after lots and lots of hot samba dancing. I saw the three guys hanging out with a couple of girls. A little Brazilian hottie was licking one of they guys up and down, exploring his various body piercings. I thought to myself… cool they aren’t gay! But, I also didn’t pay much further attention to them, going back to dance.
At about 1am, I had decided enough was enough. The party was pretty blitzed at that point and the energy in the room was pretty frenetic. I was tired from my week of traveling and had decided it was time to go home. So, I started to work my way through the crowd, dancing and saying good-night to many friends along the way. This is where stories diverge…
My side of the story is: I was headed out, dancing along the north side of the coliseum. The crowd was thick at the vomitorium that went down to the men’s bathroom. As I tried to get through the crowd, I was nearly knocked over by the buff guy in body paint who had been getting licked by the Brazilian chick. He just about knocked me off my feet, but grabbed onto me and started dancing.
His side of the story is: He was coming back from the bathroom. He and his two buddies had been watching me all night. As he was standing there, the crowd parted and out of the light, walked “the most beautiful woman he had ever seen”. He made eye contact and invited her to dance, wrapping his arms around her and whisking her away.
Obviously, you can see who the romantic is. The truth lives somewhere in between the two, no doubt. Regardless, we danced for the next hour before the lights came up. While we danced, one of his buddies had too much to drink and his other buddy needed to take him home. He asked if I would take him home and I said – sure. So, his buddies left him with me. He was thinking – SCORE! Once the lights came up, we went out to breakfast at Magnolia South then I drove him home to his mom’s house… much to his chagrin. I gave him my phone number and said that if he was still interested he should call me the following day (which was already tomorrow at that point).
I headed home and passed out with my cat. At about 9am, the phone rang and it was him. We agreed to meet at Zilker Park for a walk before he headed back down to San Antonio for the week. We had a nice walk, and he promised to be in touch.
We spent the next 7 weeks together every weekend. I ended up with three Army guys crashed at my new condo that they helped me move into. Through those 7 weeks, Philip and I fell in love, while Jimmy and Mario became some of my best friends.
At the end of the 7 weeks, the guys all had to head back to their respective stations… Philip was based in Japan, which meant we wouldn’t see each other for a while. Over the course of the next year, we corresponded by email mostly and once in a while by phone. At the end of that year, Philip ended up marrying another woman in Japan. I was heartbroken and angry. In late 2001, his buddy Jimmy, who I had built a solid friendship with, sent me a note that Phil was looking for me. He had gotten divorced a year or so earlier and was trying to reconnect his life. Of course, I had some choice four letter words for the situation. However, eventually I gave in.
Philip and I reconnected after almost 6 years. At first sight of each other, it was magic all over again. In April 2002, we moved in together and on June 18, 2003 – just over 7 years after that fateful Carnaval, we were married.