February 13, 1999
Brazil's biggest carnival grows into year-round party

                 SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) -- This city's residents are so obsessed with
                 carnival, they often wonder why theparty -- and the profits -- have to
                 end on Fat Tuesday.

                 The carnival in Salvador, Bahia's state capital, is already Brazil's biggest.
                 It draws 2 million people, including 800,000 tourists, to its streets and
                 generates $254 million in business.

                 Over the past 20 years, the celebration has grown into a $1.1 billion-
                 a-year industry, with Bahia exporting its carnival throughout the year to
                 Brazil's 27 state capitals.

                 Thanks to these "off-seasoncarnivals," it is now possible to celebrate
                 carnival somewhere in Brazil every two weeks.

                 But none of these smaller events compares to Bahia's six-day carnival,
                 which began Thursday. It costs the city $5.5 million, creates 160,000
                 temporary jobs, requires 25,000 police, fire and sanitation workers, and
                 shuts down 16 miles of roads in the centerof town.

                 Unlike Rio de Janeiro's four-day carnival, where thousands of costumed
                 revelers and hundreds of floats parade through a stadium, Bahia's carnival is
                 low on glitter and takes place in the streets.

                 If Rio de Janeiro's carnival, 750 miles to the southwest, is pure spectacle,
                 Bahia's carnival is a full-contact sport, with teaming masses heaving and
                 pulsing to the rhythms of the more than 100 carnival groups, or "blocos."

                 The blocos range in style from samba-reggae to the "afoxes," whose rhythms
                 are inspired by the Afro-Brazilian religion, candomble.

                 But most popular of all are the "trio eletricos," electric guitar-driven bands that play
                 six-hour-long sets from atop enormous sound trucks. The trios, nowadays with
                 upward of six musicians, play "axe," a tirelessly optimistic music played over a
                 reggae-inflected samba rhythm.

                 The trios make their money charging revelers as much as $275 for the right to
                 accompany the band over the course of three days inside a specially cordoned-off
                 area where a second truck provides bathrooms and a bar. A successful trio might
                 earn as much $110,000 during carnival.

                 "The cordon turns the whole street into a ballroom," said Andre Silveira, one
                 of the directors of the popular trio Banda Eva.

                 Yet the high cost of maintaining a trio is a major reason for the rise of
                 "off-season" carnivals.

                 "We play on the smallest and most expensive stage in the world, so it only
                 makes sense that we use it as much as possible," said Bell Marques, lead
                 singer for the hugely popular band Chiclete com Banana.

                 And because most of the trios that play around the country are based in
                 Bahia, the tax revenues help offset carnival's cost.

                 Municipal Finance Secretary Jorge Lins says the city sees only a small
                 fraction of what it spends on carnival return in direct tax revenues. But Lins
                 said the city probably breaks even after factoring in carnival's indirect

                 "It's a postcard for Bahia, and how can you put a price on that?"

                    Copyright 1999   The Associated Press.