The famous Copacabana beach is home to one of the largest New Year's Eve parties in the world. The celebration brings together more than 2 million people on the white beach sand and has diverse musical attractions and an intense display of fireworks coloring the landscape of one of the most famous tourist spots in the city. A huge gathering of people from all regions of the country and also the world. But not this year.
With the arrival of the second wave of Covid-19, the number of infections grows every day. The local government decided, for the first time in history, to cancel the event that is considered the most important date of the year. Actions to contain agglomerations ranged from suspending public transport to police blocks throughout the city. The different colors that used to illuminate the beach have been replaced by the intense contrast between white sand and the darkness of an empty sky.
The celebration began in the 1970s and was held by practitioners of Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion derived from traditional African cults. The practitioners gathered on the beach, always dressed in white clothes, and greeted Yemanja with offerings taken to the sea. White, in Candomblé, represents the mourning for death that allows the rebirth and continuation of life.
With the growing interest of the most diverse social classes in the party, in the 1980s, hotels in the region began to celebrate the date with the burning of fireworks on top of their roofs. In the early 90s, with the high tourist appeal, the local government at the time decided to explore the celebration and implemented a greater firework display combined with musical attractions so that people could stay longer on the beach. The first event featured singer Rod Stewart and brought together more than 3.5 million people.
Nowadays the party can be considered a faithful portrait of a country like Brazil. High society looking down from the top of its concrete fortresses to the crowds who only aspire for a better or at least fairer life. Amid an immensity of sea and sand, the real Brazil dreams together so that the great historical differences are overcome and the construction of a possible country can finally happen. But not this year.
The personal photographic approach was intended to record this historic moment where even under strict restrictions, some characters were still present into the void. Iran, who has been selling cotton candy for more than 15 years, decided to attend for strictly economic reasons. Just like Adelson, the caipirinha seller. In another sense, living on the beach since the beginning of the pandemic, as he can no longer pay the rent, Herbert reflects on the unique moment in front of him. Tourist couples enjoy the rare moment and also Jurandir, who came with his family from Rondônia, a state in the north of the country, to finally have the opportunity to visit the famous beach. In addition, objects and moments that would never be seen among the usual sea of people.
A Copacabana, with all its mystique and history, never seen before. For people who religiously attended this long-awaited day, like me, it is certainly a set of indecipherable feelings that will remain in memory forever.