In the background from her feathered headdress, Maisa Duke puts on eye makeup. Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA

In the dressing room, a samba dancer asks for assistance to tie her top. Costumes must be securely tied because of the frenetic energy of Samba. Even bikini bottoms are sewn into fishnet stockings to keep them in place. Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA

Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA.

A samba dancer is seen warming up as a man enters the dressing room to announce curtain call. The Down Low, Berkeley, CA.

Carnival performance at The Down Low club on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, CA.

From a bird's eye view, the scarlet feathers of a sambista flair at the heart of Carnival festivities. Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA.

Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA.

Manga Rosa, San Francisco, CA.

Samba dancers are all smiles as they descend from their perch--the bar at the now closed Manga Rosa restaurant; once located in San Francisco's Italian district, North Beach.

Manga Rosa, San Francisco, CA.

Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA.

Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA.

Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA.

Queen Mary, Longbeach, CA.

At the end of the night, Maisa shakes out her hair from being tied up in a headress. Though now a secular performance, samba traces its routes to the Yoruba religious tradition of Candomble. In the same way that the sambista takes on the spirit of Carnival, the worshiper in the Candomble house takes on the mediumship of his or her god. In this way, sensuality is an internalizing experience -- one of becoming. The Down Low, Berkeley, CA.