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Madonna kicks off the largest beach concert ever in Rio

Madonna is giving a free concert on Copacabana Beach today, turning the vast sand into a huge dance floor. It comes after Rio de Janeiro has been preparing for the Queen of Pop’s historic performance in recent days.

Rio City Hall has said that up to 1.5 million spectators are expected, more than ten times more than Madonna’s record attendance of 130,000 at Paris’ Parc des Sceaux in 1987. Madonna’s official website has hyped the show as the biggest ever in her forty-year career. .

It will be the final show of The Celebration Tour, her first retrospective that kicked off in London in October.

The buzz has been palpable in recent days. Fans gathered outside the stately beachfront Copacabana Palace hotel, where Madonna is staying, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pop star. During the sound check on the stage in front of her hotel, they danced on the sand.

Around noon on Saturday, hundreds of fans had gathered in front of the hotel. A man with a white beard carried a sign that read “Welcome Madonna, you are the best, I love you.”

Flags featuring Madonna printed against a backdrop of Copacabana’s iconic black-and-white wavy sidewalk pattern hung from balconies. The area was teeming with street vendors and concertgoers, dressed in themed T-shirts, sweating under the scorching sun.

“Since Madonna arrived here, I come every day with this outfit to welcome my idol, my diva, my pop queen,” said 69-year-old Rosemary de Oliveira Bohrer, who sported a gold cone bra and a black cap. .

A fan poses as he waits for the start of Madonna's final show of her The Celebration Tour, on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It will be an unforgettable show here in Copacabana,” said Oliveira Bohrer, a retired civil servant who lives nearby.

There are eighteen sound towers along the beach that ensure that everyone present can hear the hits. Her two-hour show starts at 9:45 PM local time.

City Hall produced a report in April estimating the concert will inject 293 million Brazilian reals (NZ$96 million) into the local economy. According to the Rio Hotel Association, hotel capacity in Copacabana is expected to reach 98%. Fans from across Brazil and even Argentina and France searched for Airbnbs this weekend, the platform said in a statement. And Rio International Airport expects 170 additional flights from 27 destinations from May 1 to 6, city hall said in a statement.

“It’s a unique opportunity to see Madonna, who knows if she will ever come back,” said Alessandro Augusto, 53, who flew from Ceara state, about 2,500 km from Rio.

“Welcome queen!” read Heineken advertisements plastered all over the city, with the letters above an image of an upside-down bottle cap resembling a crown. Heineken wasn’t the only company looking to capitalize on the excitement, with bars and restaurants reportedly preparing ‘like a virgin’ cocktails named after her 1984 hit. A city center store famous for selling carnival costumes has has completely reinvented itself and has filled the shelves with Madonna-themed costumes, fans, fanny packs and even underwear.

The organization of the mega event will be similar to New Year’s Eve, when millions of people converge on Copacabana for the world-famous fireworks, local authorities said. That annual event often leads to widespread thefts and robberies, and there is some concern that such problems could arise during Madonna’s show.

Police officers patrol ahead of the start of Madonna's final show of her The Celebration Tour.

Rio State’s security plan includes the presence of 3,200 military personnel and 1,500 civilian police officers on standby. In the run-up to the concert, the Brazilian Navy conducted inspections of ships that wanted to position themselves at sea to follow the show.

A number of major concerts have previously taken place on Copacabana Beach, including a 1994 Rod Stewart New Year’s Eve show that attracted more than 4 million fans and was the largest free rock concert in history, according to Guinness World Records.

However, many spectators had come to see Rio’s fireworks show, so a more appropriate comparison might be the Rolling Stones in 2006, where 1.2 million people gathered on the sand, according to Rio’s military police cited by the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo at the time. .