For the deaf, Rio samba parades are all about the vibes

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Aulio Nobrega can’t hear a thing when hundreds of drummers march into Rio de Janeiro’s Sambodromo, or when thousands sing or the crowd cheers. But he feels the vibe – literally.

Nobrega, 40, works as a journalist for TV INES – a channel aimed at deaf people, where the correspondents report in sign language – and his challenge Monday night was to cover samba parades famous for their decibel levels.

Before every parade, the noise onslaught starts with fireworks announcing the new samba school. It sounds like a battle.

Next the drum section fires up, hundreds of drummers working in unison. Then come some 3,000 costumed dancers singing the school’s anthem, which simultaneously belts out from loudspeakers.

And that’s before you factor in the cheering and singing of 72,000 fans crammed into the narrow stadium.

The whole drama passes in silence for Nobrega, yet somehow needs to be described to his equally deaf viewers.

And that’s where the vibrations come in.

Nobrega says the music doesn’t have to reach his ears: it courses through his entire body.

“I hear none of the music, really nothing, but I feel the vibrations. It’s as if there’s a force that I feel on my skin,” he said, speaking in sign language through one of TV INES’s hearing-capable interpreters.