The Gualeguaychú comparsas have a maximum of two hundred and sixty members, four floats and four fancy dresses.
Every year, they must think of a theme that is developed in the various stages. Generally, the parade is opened by a group called front committee, made up by very conspicuous figures and impressive costumes designed in accordance with the theme and searching to impress the viewers. It may be led by an individual figure.
This is followed with the opening float, which generally includes a presentation of the theme and the name of the comparsa on the front.
The two intermediate floats are related by theme to some of the squads and the closing float generally carries a final message forming one same group with the "batucada".
Then, the ambassador couple is seen. They are dressed in attractive costumes with the colors or some symbol of the sponsoring entity. The woman brandishes the flag and the man dances around her, as he does homage not only to her but also to the flag by fluttering a large fan.
The squads: Generally led by a figure or a master of ceremonies couple. Each squad represents a sub-theme within the comparsa, symbolized in the harnesses, headdresses, long skirts and sometimes even on the bracelets or footwear. Some squads are complemented by an illustrative float. There are four floats per comparsa and, as a result of their size and splendor, they are one of the most outstanding elements of the Carnival of the Country.
Harnesses and headdresses: These are elements to be considered especially by the viewers. The members of the comparsa wear the harnesses on their shoulders and back to carry a sort of backpack. The headdress covers their head. There are also breast straps, shoulder pads, belts, loincloths, thongs, wigs, boots, etc. In addition to their beauty, the harnesses and headdresses symbolize the theme of the squad.
Each comparsa has its own harnesses and headdresses workshop with their corresponding specialists. Not only does a good harness have to be adapted to the person's body, but it must also be solid and light at the same time, so that it is not damaged and feels comfortable while dancing.
The Fancy Costumes: They are the most spectacular elements in the comparsa, for their size and luxury. They are part of the squad theme. As they are so heavy, they prevent paraders who wear them from dancing. They just can slightly move following the rhythm. Being able to parade in a costume showing it off is an art. They usually include wheels to lighten the weight, and some of them even have lights. There are two kinds of fancy costumes. The ones parading on the ground, which have already been described, and the ones on the floats. The latter usually include a harness which is detached from the parader so that they can move freely. But in the special party, where these costumes take part in competition, the paraders must dance with the harness. They usually reach a weight of eighty kilos and are ornamented with up to twenty-five hundred feathers and several kilos of sequins embroidered one by one with small beads, as well as stones, pearls and other elements. In some cases, costumes include over five hundred thousand pieces.
The Feathers: The so-called Amazonian or African feathers are the most frequently used. There are also pheasant and peacock feathers and the smallest ones, called "cock tail". Sometimes, they are dyed in colors.
The Orchestras: The musicians are located on one of the floats and they are dressed according to the float theme. The sound is transmitted by FM to the circuit speaker network, which broadcasts it through the entire comparsa, except the last section, in which the batucada rules.
As time went by, the Gualeguaychú Carnival has been searching for its musical personality. It has been influenced by Brazil, Corrientes, Uruguay, but the audience demands a faster rhythm that creates high spirits and is an invitation to dancing. In some comparsas, rhythms are combined. This determines the dancing movements.
The Queen: She generally goes on one of the floats, though sometimes she may be seen dancing on the ground. She carries some sort of symbol, crown or tiara which identifies her as such. However, the best indication of her presence is her beauty. After the election of the Queen of Carnival, she parades wearing her crown or sash.
The Paraders: Each comparsa has a main parader who dances in front of the "batucada", following the rhythm. She is generally accompanied by some dancing boy or a corps of ballet.
Batucada Committee: This is the band dancing to the rhythm of the batucada, preceding the parader, who generally is escorted by the director.
"Batucada": Unlike the Río de Janeiro carnival, where the batucada complements the music, the Gualeguaychú Carnival batucada" is totally independent.
At the beginning, the batucadas included eighty members or more, who would play the rhythm of samba music. Their rhythm gradually became stronger and faster.
At present, the batucada is made up by approximately thirty members. The instruments used are drums exclusively and they do not necessarily agree with the Brazilian origin of the batucada, as in Brazil, a different drum is used.
The batucada rhythm is set by the drums and the surdó. The casetas provide brightness and have a small patch that is beaten with a single or double stick, whose sound varies according to position and the pressure of the fingers on the patch. There are also the repeñiques, which are different from the redoblantes because they have a higher drum and do not vibrate, thus creating a sharper sound.
The group is complemented by the sicuallos, formed by multiple rollers that sound as they bump into each other when shaken. The recu recus are also used frequently, which are hollow sticks with slots that sound when beaten.
The batucadas escort the parader. They encourage the audience and are the perfect finale for the comparsa. For this reason, if their performance is successful, they will make viewers feel gratified and joyful.