Pâmella Gomes, Princess of the Tom Maior Samba School: From a family dedicated to the Samba of Carnaval

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Pâmella Gomes circulates through the Tom Maior Samba School rehearsal as you would in your own home. “I love it here. It’s my second family,” says the morena (1) that is one of the school’s  featured dancers. The São Paulo native says that those who like Carnival dedicate themselves 100% this time of year. “It’s nice to see all the rehearsals, interacting with the community and learning to sing the Samba.” (see a photo gallery of Pâmella here)

Pâmella grew up in the court of the Tom Maior Samba School. Her parents are the “first couple” of the school which consists of the Mestre-Sala (Master of the Room or Ceremonies) and Porta-Bandeira (flag bearer) (2) of the school. Her aunt Andreia is Rainha da Bateria (Queen of the Drumbeat) (3). Her uncle is the Mestre da Bateria (Master the Drumbeat) (4). And to make it complete, Pâmella’s grandmother, Duda, parades with the Velha Guarda(Old Guard) (5) in the school. On the avenue, Pâmella debuted for the first time at only five years old in the ala das crianças (children’s segment) (6), and the following year, she was the rainha mirim da bacteria (child queen of the drumbeat) (7).

A family in Samba: Duda, center in red, the matriarch of the family, Carlos Alves, far left, is married to Andreia (yellow dress); the couple stand with their two children. In gold are Pâmella’s parents, Simone Gomes and Jairo Pereira, Pâmella and her brother Caíque.

Her beauty immediately took her to the rank of the Samba school’s Queen of the Drumbeat. Pâmella who has also been the Madrinha (godmother) of the School, has measurements that have turned her into one of the school’s beauties:  37-24-38 (95cm, 62cm, 99cm) and standing 5’8” (1.70 m) in height.

Her unforgettable Carnival was held in 2010. In that year, Pâmella participated in the Muse of Carnaval contest for São Paulo Carnival of 2010 on TV variety show Caldeirão do Huck on the Globo TV network, and took second place. For her, who is a model for events, the result helped to publicize her work.


The dancer also has dreams of being an actress. This year she started studying to work with the organization of events, but in the future, she wants to act. “Doing theater is what I like.” Additionally, she wants to have her own family, get married and have two children. Pâmella has been dating for a short time and says that to conquer her, the man must be sincere, affectionate, educated and dedicated. “That’s how my boyfriend is!” the young woman confirms.

The video below is a short feature on Pâmella’s family. All mentioned in the above article are featured including her shy, 17-year old brother Caíque who is the sole member of the family who is not a Carnaval or Samba enthusiast. Although he does like the style known as Samba-Enredo, he prefers other Brazilian musical genres such as Pagode, Black Music and Funk. Take a peak a family who has a tradition in Carnaval and Samba. No subtitles but enjoy the visuals to get an idea of what the various roles of a Samba school look like. 

Source: R7 Entretenimento


1. For a discussion of this term and identity see here. For the Brazilian media’s insistence on using this term even when women self-identify as mulheres negras (black women), see here

2. The mestre-sala (The master of the room/ceremonies) and porta-bandeira (she who carries the flag) displays the flag of the school to the audience. The porta-bandeira carries the flag, and the mestre-sala pays tribute and draws attention to both the flag and the porta-bandeira. Her dance is not a samba, but she spins and boughs her way ahead. The mestre-sala dances around her. All their moves are regulated in a set of rules, and at one point during the parade they are evaluated by the judges. The slightest mistake may result in their scores being lowered. For example: it is forbidden that the two give their backs to each other at the same time, and errors such as the drop of a hat or a slips will result in lower scores. Their costumes are similar to the gala costumes typical of the eighteenth century, but “carnavalized”, i.e. with an exaggerated amount of colors and decorations. Currently, at least since the 1990s, the schools of the Special Group of Rio and São Paulo parade usually with three or four pairs of mestre-salas and porta-bandeira, but only the first is evaluated, the other being merely decorative, and optional. Normally, there to represent the school in some events where the main couple is unable to. Source: Wiki

3. Rainha da Bateria or “Queen of the Drumbeat” or “Carnaval Drum Queens” are essentially muses that parade in a highlighted fashion, in front of every Drum Section within a samba-school in Brazil´s Carnaval….The Rainhas de Bateria are at the top of the social status chain (for women) within Brazil’s Carnaval and are responsible for “opening and welcoming” the percussionists of the drums section in every major samba school in Brazil.  The post is extremely sought after and sparks lively competition within possible candidates….Apart from being young and marvelous, the Rainhas de Bateria also have to be very photogenic, as to attract as much attention as possible by specialized media and general public. Carnaval Drum Queens are photographed all year long, and this media interest and exposure adds popularity and glamour to the final showing of the samba school during the official parade.   Within all attributes, charisma is probably the most important one.” Source: Brazil Carnaval

4. Mestre da Bateria or Master of the Drumbeat has to be primarily a people manager and organizer. With nearly 300 drummers in carnival, and hundreds more hopefuls turning up for rehearsals, enormous skills of leadership and diplomacy are called for. And there are two or three major rehearsals a week, and events to organize, and inventories of drums and equipment to maintain, and drums to repair and keep track of. It is enormously time consuming, for months on end. And a mistake in carnival can lead to immediate dismissal. Traditionally, calling someone a mestre meant that they are true masters of all of the instruments in a samba school drum section. For the principal director of a samba school’s bateria, this skill is perhaps less important than leadership, charisma, a very good ear, organisation and diplomacy. But these days people outside of the world of baterias tend to use the term Mestre de Bateria for any principal director. Few people incorporate all of the necessary skills, but each bateria has a team of directors, and a good principal director will devolve responsibilities and make the most of the talents of their team. Source: TD Sounds

5. Velha Guard or Old-guard is a group of older, often already quite old, samba dancers, often the founders of schools that no longer hold positions within the hierarchy of the party, but that is a separate department, and the Carnival parade in positions of honor, dressed in carnival costumes not conventional, but clothing dress, typical of samba, such suits in school colors and Panama-style hats. Source: Wiki

6. Ala das crianças (children’s segment) is the section of the Carnaval parade that features children, also highly choreographed with elaborate costumes

7. Rainha mirim da bateria or child star queen of the drumbeat, is usually a little girl of 6-12 years of age.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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