The debut of Simpatia é Quase Amor was in 1985, 20 years after the first parade of Banda de Ipanema. The colors of Simpatia are lilac and yellow, chosen after the Engov wrapping - hangover pill that was quite popular by then.
Simpatia chooses a theme every year, and they play this song throughout the parade, in the likes of a Samba School. The rehearsals for the selection of the theme of the year create a sort of camaraderie among its members, and the sale of T-shirts helps to cover costs.
You do not have to participate in the rehearsals to join in, though. Just march and dance along, and before you know it you will be surrounded by fun-loving Cariocas having the time of their lives!
How Everything Began
It all started with less than 300 partiers that left from Praça General Osório towards Ipanema's beach lane, Av. Vieira Souto. Simpatia originally followed the same route of Banda de Ipanema. Today they keep going along Av. Vieira Souto all the way to Rua Anibal de Mendonça at Posto 10, a few blocks away from Leblon.
The idea was to create an alternative to Ipanema residents and visitors to what was then becoming a more commercial Samba Parade. This is an event that can be attended by the whole family - including the children. Today Simpatia attracts as many as 20 thousand partiers for each parade, including many Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon residents. T-shirts and bermudas are more commonly seen than the exquisite costumes worn by impossible drag queens at Banda de Ipanema.
Simpatia was born with a pedigree. It's first theme was composed by Aldir Blanc and Joao Bosco, and the first godmother was Isabel, a gold medalist of our Olympics volleyball team. The T-shirts that change in design every year, have been signed by artists of prestige, including Ziraldo and Lan.
Albino Pinheiro, the patron of Banda de Ipanema, once referred to Simpatia as a "quality byproduct of the Banda". The name comes from Esmeraldo, a character in a book by Aldir Blanc, and it means something like cheerfulness is almost love (doesn't translate well, I know...). So put on your happy face, join in and, who knows, love may be on your way!
Simpatia marches twice every year. The first time is a on Saturday a week before Carnival. The second time is on Carnival Sunday. This is the same day that another band named Que Merda é Essa? takes over cross-street Garcia D'Ávila. The confluence of the two bands meeting just one block before the end is deliciously chaotic. A funny note is that most street gardens along Av. Vieira Souto are temporarily "fenced in" to avoid being turned to mush by the thousands of dancing feet.