As wild, orgiastic parties go, Mardi Gras may wear the American crown, but on the international stage, Brazil's Carnaval kicks Mardi Gras's ass. Why? One word: samba. The intoxicating rhythms create an atmosphere where inhibitions are as scarce as clothing on an Ipanema beach. Derived from the same medieval Christian revels that spawned Mardi Gras, Carnaval Brasileiro is a festival of gluttonous consumption, dancing and debauchery on the eve of the 40 days of abstinence known as Lent. The Austin version began around 1975, when a group of Brazilian scholarship students attending the University of Texas organized a Carnaval celebration at a Unitarian church. This year, Carnaval organizers are promising a euphoric night of music, outrageous costumes, wriggling rumps and bouncing boobs.
Grupo Saveiro, twice voted "the best Brazilian group in the United States" by the Brazilian International Press Association, will provide nonstop 90-minute sets of exotic samba music. Texas's pale-skinned partygoers may lack the sexy and mysterious allure of Rio de Janeiro, but after a few caipirinhas, they'll be turning Portuguese. Advance tickets available at Waterloo Records and can be charged by phone at 866-468-7621. The event usually sells out early, so tickets may or may not be available at the door (cash only). 9 p.m. Saturday, February 7. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road in Austin. For information, call 512-472-5111 or visit www.sambaparty.com. $30. -- Troy Schulze
TACO MILAGRO'S PALOMA
Last night's deluge had subsided, leaving bright, unseasonably warm sunshine and a gorgeous Texas blue sky in its wake. I had a burning desire for sangria on the patio at Taco Milagro (2555 Kirby, 713-522-1999), but apparently so did the rest of Houston. The pretty people were out in full force, showing off more skin than the cover of Maxim. A friend and I were circling aimlessly, and a couple took pity on us and relinquished their table. The first pitcher went down like water, so I switched to a house drink called a paloma, a sparkling concoction made from tequila and fizzy grapefruit juice that would've made Jimmy Buffett proud. My conversation skills were getting warped, due in no small part to the droves of hot-looking chiquitas surrounding our table. For a while, I envisioned our sitting there until sunset. Somewhere around the fifth round, though, I discovered that my credit card was maxed out. We stumbled back to my car and searched desperately for fallen pocket change to buy one more round.
1-3/4 ounces El Jimador Reposado tequila
1 ounce fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
1/2 ounce Jarritos Toranja Grapefruit Sabor Natural
Fill a tall soda glass with ice and measure out tequila and fresh-squeezed lime juice. Add a pinch of salt and top off with grapefruit juice. Lime garnish and skimpy clothing optional. Best consumed on a sunny patio. -- J.W. Crooker
Working for the Weekend
Walking in the door without pulling out your wallet can make you feel like a VIP. Free "Loft Fridays" at Fusion Cafe is a tropical happy hour that goes until 2 a.m., expressly tailored for the working men and women of Houston. The cafe serves up soulful Caribbean food with a big spoon. You can sup on rice and peas, plantains and oxtails while a DJ spins out cool grooves in a mellow evening atmosphere. The $2 mojitos add spice to what's already nice. Come out early for happy hour, stay for the grub, then dance it off till the wee hours of the morning. Your desk will be a distant memory. 5 p.m. 2442 Times Boulevard. For information, call 713-522-1884 or visit www.713vip.com. Free. -- Felicia Johnson-LeBlanc
...As a Baby's Bottom
"Velvet Sundays" just might be the perfect name for an end-of-the-week turntable event. With Monday on the horizon, most electronica junkies aren't looking to bang and bump away into the wee hours of the morning. They want something a little smoother, a little more, well, velvety. Resident decknicians Ethan Klein, Daniel Velasquez and Brad Slack know how to bring the noise, but they're turning down the volume for a chilled-out evening of funk, hip-hop, house, acid jazz and drum 'n' bass. Be careful, or their show could become a velveteen habit. 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays. Union Bar and Lounge, 202 Tuam. For information, call 713-529-5296. Free. -- Keith Plocek