this was the last night for band activities of our rio adventure. following a masterclass with rio’s elite godfather of the bateria (the master of the master, who revolutionised carnival samba arranging) mestre odilon costa, he awarded us 10 points and invited us to open the proceedings at união da ilha the next night. still gobsmacked by the honour, we became the first UK samba group to play their own stand-alone set in a rio samba school. their best-loved sambas of yesteryear have often graced the rotc set, to the point that our first samba medley featured 4 ilha favourites from the 70s and 80s. this surely would complete the ‘coals to newcastle’ prophecy – us playing samba to the community of a samba school at their saturday night ball. so what happened? after a batucada overture mishka, gabrielle & noemi slammed it with ivete sangalo’s eu tô vendo, and in a surprise change of style.. thriller (that was then taken up by rio’s MJ bloco ‘electric thriller’), lady marmalade, ain’t no mountain high enough and some more local sambas to round it off… where yazzmin stepped out to amaze the gathered passistas. despite the nervousness of the situation, by the respect shown to us and the number of friends we made that night (playing on with them until the close) it could be considered the icing on the already sweet enough cake that was the band’s first-and-now-probably-not-last brazilian excursion.