There is a lot of that sure, but walk away from the lagoon and San Marco and things become different. The alleys get more crowded and the atmosphere becomes more like a street party. There are makeshift dance parties around drummers and bands and the occasional portable bar. Unlike the usual rococo gowns associated with the festival, the costumes are more hand-made: men in women's underwear and fairy wings, holding toilet plungers; big groups wearing painter overalls with top hats; cyclists in glowing helmets. a fellow partier, who was (sadly) very popular with the ladies, was wearing a Berlusconi mask and a shirt that said "Maniaco Sessuale". He was mobbed everywhere we went, followed by the chant "Silvio, Silvio! Va' fa' un culo!" There is no unity in anything--whatever you can get together is what you wore that night.famous costume balls I'm sure. But down in the streets it got too crowded to think about those. Honestly, I have never seen Italians like this: an out and out street party, binge drinking, and dancing...everywhere! Usually discrete, it seemed like for a day every Italian decided to be Spanish. Around the Rialto, the traditional home of the best nightlife in Venice, one rounded a corner and a DJ set was happening and Big Bird was headlining. Students from Padova, Bologna, and Ferrara were everywhere, making for a hip and overindulgent crowd too young to give a damn. Crowded, sweaty (even in sub-30s cold), loud, and dizzying...very, very far indeed from the promises of a "restrained" Venetian Carnevale.
The night of course gets very weird and surreal in a place like this. The more intoxicated the crowd (and the stronger the smell of marijuana) became, things got weirder and weirder. Every beginning to a narration of the night's events seems like the beginning of a joke."So an angel, an Indian, and a sexy nurse gets into a car driven by the devil"..."we almost hit a transvestite Tina Turner walking down the road"...It's just weird, or may be its just impossible to describe. Or maybe its just not meant for descriptions. You see a mad doctor, santa, and Tom Brady peeing in the Grand Canal...does one even bother to ask, "why?"