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Samba Glossary

  • Ala
    A group within a Samba School (e.g. ala bateria, ala passista, ala indios). All the members of an Ala wear the same costume, giving the colourful characteristics of a samba school parade.

  • Baiana
    This is one of the most important Alas in a Samba School and is compulsory in Rio carnival. The Baianas always wear large hooped skirts and are predominantly older ladies. In Rio, they would have been with the Samba School for many years.

  • Bateria
    The percussion band of a Samba School.

  • Carnaval
    The annual festival which, in Brazil, takes place during the 4 days ending on Shrove Tuesday. In many countries this festival is called Mardi Gras.

  • Carnavalesco
    The designer with overall artistic control of the carnival including the costumes, the floats and the overall appearance of the carnival parade.

  • Comissao de Frente
    This is the front line group leading the carnival parade - the face and smile of the Samba School. This group acts out a choreographed movement or a small piece of theatre.

  • Director
    Someone with an area of responsibility in a Samba School. This could be administrator or, for example, a leader of the Bateria.

  • Fantasia
    Carnival costume.

  • G.R.E.S.
    Gremio Recreativo Escola de Samba - this title indicates a traditional samba school.

  • Ala Indios
    This ala represents the native indians of Brazil.

  • Madrinha
    Mother emblem or figure. A symbolic role appointed by the directorate. This role is one of honor earned through dedication for and to the school.

  • Mestre de Bateria
    Mestre de Bateria is a title of honour given to a recognised expert who must know how to play all the instruments very well.

  • Mestre Sala
    The Mestre Sala partners the Porta Bandeira and dances with a special style. He rarely leaves the side of the Porta Bandeira.

  • Passista
    One of the fast-stepping samba dancers in a Samba School.

  • Porta Bandeira
    The Porta Bandeira (Flag Bearer) is the most important representative of the School in parades. The flag is always treated with great reverence.

  • Puxador(es)
    The singer(s) of the samba enredo.

  • Rainha da Bateria (Queen of the Bateria)
    The Queen of the Bateria assumes a prominent position with the Bateria. The title of Queen of the Bateria is traditionally awarded after a competition, but sometimes is simply awarded.

  • Samba
    A type of music and dance developed from the musical traditions of African slaves in Brazil. From its roots in Bahia, samba was developed in Rio in the 1900s.

  • Samba Enredo
    The school's carnival song. A new song is composed for the carnival each year.

  • Samba no Pe
    'Samba with feet' = fast-step samba dancing, most often performed by the Ala Passista


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