The current Clube de Alegoria e Crítica O Homem da Meia-Noite, first appeared in the 1931 Carnival, as a form of dissent by the members of the Carnival troop Cariri de Olinda.
Wall painter Luciano Anacleto de Queiroz; carpenter Sebastião da Silva; plumbers Cosme José dos Santos and Heliodoro Pereira da Silva, along with shoemaker, Manoel Joaquim dos Santos (Neco Monstro), all from Olinda, disgusted at not having been considered on the official list of the Cariri directory, created the Troça Carnavalesca Homem da Meia-Noite.
The name was inspired by the hero of an adventure series being shown at the time at the Cinema do Carmo, in Olinda: a detective who came out of the middle of a clock to catch criminals.
To undermine Cariri, who had had the privilege of opening the Olinda Carnival since the 19th century, the Midnight Man went out onto the city streets in the first minute of ‘Momo’ Sunday, before its new rival.
In the first two Carnivals of 1931 and 1932, the troop used no symbols. It left with only its banner, embroided with a clock showing 12, and a giant doll made by Luciano Anacleto de Queiroz and Benedito Barbaça, builder and roofer.
With a wooden structure, the original doll had a head, torso and hands made of papier-mâché and plaster finishing, painted in a tone to resemble the colour of human skin. It measured 3.5 metres and weighed 50 kilos. Its arms were filled with mattress straw and, like the fists and hands, contained sand to keep them in position during the parades. To make the doll’s clothes, 22 metres of fabric was needed.
The person carrying the giant doll took it on their head, supported by a cushion. So that they could see while walking and dancing, the waist of the doll was at eye-level, where there was an opening (where the fly in the doll’s pants was located).
The Midnight Man was carred for 57 by the same person, the doll-maker Cidinho, who never had problems coping with the weight and the heat inside the doll’s structure. The temperature could reach over 40ºC during the parades on the steep Olinda streets.
Its first clubhouse was at 31 Rua do Amparo. Today it is located in front of Igreja de Nossa do Rosário dos Homens Pretos, in the Bonsucesso neighbourhood of Marim dos Caetés.
The club’s anthem, both lyrics and music, was composed by maestro Bernardino da Silva, who was the director of Banda 10 de Novembro, from Olinda.
It paraded every year from 1931 until 1949. From 1950 to 1953, however, the club did not go out mainly due to a lack of financial resources. From 1954, the year of the commemoration of the Pernambuco Restoration, the then-Mayor of Olinda, Alfredo Lopes, gave funding to the club so it could return to parading with no further interruptions to this day.
Since its founding, Homem da Meia Noite maintains the tradition of parading on the same course, on the streets of Olinda’s Cidade Alta (Upper City), officially opening the Marim dos Caetés Carnival at midnight on Zé Pereira Saturday.
Its calunga (doll), the oldest giant doll to walk through the steep streets of Olinda, was chosen by popular choice to be the symbol of Carnival 2006 and of the city of Olinda, the 1st Brazilian Capital of Culture.
In December 2006, the Clube de Alegoria e Crítica O Homem da Meia-Noite received the title of Living Patrimony of Pernambuco.
As a ‘Ponto de Cultura’ (Cultural Point), the association has been responsible for the fostering of Carnival culture and artistic production in Olinda.
Recife, 26 February 2007.
(Updated on 28 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.
BONALD NETO, Olimpio. O Homem da Meia-Noite. Recife: Fundaj, Inpso, Coordenadoria de Folclore, 1978. (Folclore, n. 46).
BONECOS Gigantes de Olinda. Disponível em: <http://www.guiapernambuco.com.br/culturais/bonecosgigantes.shtml>. Acesso em: 22 jan. 2007.
HOMEM DA MEIA-NOITE (foto neste texto). In: BONALD NETO, Olimpio. Os gigantes foliões em Pernambuco. 2. ed. Recife: Cepe, 2007. 264 p. p. 247.
PATRIMÔNIO vivo na Cultura Viva. Disponível em:<http://www.cultura.gov.br/programas_e_acoes/cultura_viva/noticias/index.php?p=22106&more=1&c=1&pb=1>. Acesso em: 23 jan. 2007.
SÍMBOLO: os encantos do Homem da meia Noite. Disponível em: <http://www.olindacbc.com.br/simbolo.html>. Acesso em: 23 jan. 2007.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. O Homem da Meia-Noite (Clube de Alegoria) – The Midnight Man (Satirical Club). Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.