The group Chicago Samba brought this tradition to the Midwest by holding its first Queen of Samba Contest 18 years ago. "Back then we were called Chicago Samba School," said the group's founder, Moacyr Marchini," and we wanted to pattern ourselves exactly after Rio's samba schools."
Over time, the group shortened its name and grew into a mainstay of Chicago's Brazilian community - and so did its annual contest. "It's a party full of joy and beauty that displays the best our culture has to offer," Marchini said.
And it's happening again this Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Logan Square Auditorium. In keeping with Brazil's tradition of inclusiveness, the contest is open to ladies of every ethnicity and nationality;
The candidates will be evaluated on their dance skills, beauty and personality, with the audience, the members of Chicago Samba and a panel of expert judges all having their say. The winner will take home the Queen of Samba crown and a $250 cash prize, while the runner-up gets the Princess of Samba title and a $150 cash prize.
The contest winners also become members of the Chicago Samba family, which comes with priceless benefits. "I have been able to travel with Chicago Samba to many different states," said Karlies Kelly, a Panama native who has seen many doors open for her since winning the Samba Queen 2012 crown. "My business with classes and performances has gone up because of my title. My resume looks great! My self-esteem is higher and outreach to the community has grown immensely."
Before and after the contest, audience members will be treated to hours of music, performances by Samba1 Brazilian Dance Group in authentic carnival costumes from Rio de Janeiro, and samba lessons on and off the stage - all for only $10.
"The Queen of Samba Contest and show has something for everyone," said Marchini. "So whether you want to get a taste of Brazil or just do something different on your Thanksgiving weekend, come on down to the Logan Square Auditorium."
Queen of Samba 2013 Contest and Show: Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Blvd., Chicago, IL 60647. $10 admission at the door; doors open at 9 p.m., music starts at 10 p.m. Free parking at Popular Bank's parking lot, 2525 N. Kedzie Blvd.
Moacyr Marchini and Queen of Samba 2012 winner Karlies Kelly are available for interviews; call 314-477-6226 for arrangements.