The Turma do Estácio was a samba group that frequented samba rounds (samba de roda) towards the end of the 1920s, in Rio. The group is seen as having started samba carioca as we know it today, both in Brazil and worldwide.
This type of samba solidified itself quickly as samba carioca as it injected a different kind of cadence into the Bahian samba, taken to Rio by the tias baianas (Bahian ‘aunts’). This type of samba was known as more of a maxixe than the kind that would be created in Rio. The Estácio Group imposed more rythym into their samba amaxixado, with instruments like the surdo (large bass drum), tamborines and cuícas (friction drum), which were joined by pandeiros (specialized tamborines) and chocalhos (rattles).
In 1928, Ismael Silva, Bide, Mestre Marçal, Bucy Moreira, Baiaco, Brancura, Mano Rubem and Mano Edgar founded Deixa Falar* at the Morro de São Carlos, considered the first Brazilian samba school. This group would go around doing samba rounds at the Apolo and Cumpadre bars, at the foot of the Morro de São Carlos. These get-togethers would attract a lot of people from all over Rio, among them sambistas (samba-makers) from Benfica, Madureira, Providência and Gamboa, who would spend all night there, despite them not being tolerated by the police.
Among some of the sambistas who’d hang with the Estácio Group, usually from other favelas, were future bigwigs Cartola, Carlos Cachaça and later Nelson Cavaquinho and Geraldo Pereira, Paulo da Portela, Alcides Malandro Histórico, Manacéia, Chico Santana, Molequinho, and Aniceto do Império Serrano. All of them were responsible for creating and spreading the samba-de-morro (‘authentic‘ samba from the favelas).
To be more specific, Deixa Falar was actually a Carnival bloco, created on August 12, 1928, in the Estácio de Sá neighborhood. It’s ‘headquarters’ was at Ismael Silva’s house, and since the neighborhood’s main square was already next to a regular school, he called his bloco a ‘school of samba’. The name Deixa Falar (Let Me/Us Speak) came out of the desire to be able to practice and march without police brutality, something that was common at the time wherever samba was involved. Samba and their schools became a way that the marginalized sought recognition and respect and the marches would become more official over the following decades, initially as a manner of being able to show a neighborhood’s pride and talents in a more orderly, and thus safe, fashion.
Ismael once said, “Take note of two little things: samba provoked the substitution of European music for that of African origin, in Brazilian society, and moreso: how could we ever imagine that when we were playing around with music that it’d end up like this? Something from the corner street would take up entire avenues? Today it isn’t just a school. It’s university, it’s academia, it’s college, who knows! A big party. What a thing!”