What is a Camarote?
Camarotes are "party boxes" that line the carnival circuit from which you can watch the carnival blocos and their trio elétricos (sound trucks with carnival bands) as they pass by. They also function as a "party inside the party" complete with Dj's, live bands, bars, food facilities, as well other types of entertainment options from "chill-out" rooms to beauty salons, to internet rooms, etc. The camarote provides a secure, comfortable area from which to watch the trio elétricos while at the same time offering a "carnival ball" style party of their own to those inside.
Are all camarotes the same? They are all variations on the same idea, i.e., viewing box on the circuit, "party within the party", but they do vary in what "bells and whistles" they offer and this is reflected in their prices which range from R$150 per night up to R$1200 per night. And, as is usually the case, you usually get what you pay for.
Some offer camarotes that are "All inclusive" meaning all food and all drinks are included in the price of the ticket. Others offer an "Open Bar" all you can drink included in the price, but charge for food separately, while others offer free beer, but charge for the cocktails. And then, there's the difference in the quality of the food. Camarote Salvador, for instance, has their party catered by the best restaurants in Salvador while at another camarote, you may only find "standard cafeteria" fare.
Also, while all camarotes have some form of "club action" --- a dance floor held down by a DJ --- others, like Camarote Salvador, bring national renowned and international DJ's to "hype" the party. Their 2013 parties were headlined by superstar DJ's like Fatboy Slim, Calvin Harris, and American R&B star, Ne-Yo. Some of the camarotes also contract live bands to perform on stages inside. Again, the best, and most expensive of the camarotes have top name international and national acts like Bobby Sinclair, Marcello MC2, or Negra Li to fire up their parties, while less expensive camarotes, if they have live shows, may only offer local cover bands.
Something else worth noting; some of the camarotes are owned or sponsored by a particular carnival bloco and as such have an affiliation with a popular carnival band. Camarote Nana is owned by the carnival bloco Nana and therefore has an affiliation with the famed carnival band, Chiclete com Banana. Camarote Reino is associated with the hugely successful carnival band Asa de Águia. Camarote Cerveja & Cia with mega-star Ivette Sangalo. When these bands and their trios are out on the carnival circuit, they will stop to play a set directly in front of their camarote.
Lastly, there is the camarote’s infrastructure: they differ in size, location, amount of viewing space on the carnival circuit (very important when popular bands pass by). Other features that differentiate them from one another are amenities like access to the beach, services offered, i.e., beauty rooms for a quick make-up and hair job, masseuses for dead legs and tired feet, and some even offer swimming pools to cool off in.
Camarote: Entrance and Exits
To enter a camarote, one buys a kit that comes with both abadá (shirt) AND an entrance card/carnival ticket (differentiated from the blocos where you only get an abadá). When you enter, in the camarote's entrance area, you arrive dressed with your abadá and present this entrance card/carnival ticket and the receptionists will 'staplegun' a wrist band on for you.
This wrist band is necessary for re-entry. If you want to leave the camarote, hit the streets, and then come back in, that's allowed. However, you'll need to present both the abadá and the wrist band to get back in.