After the victory of the concourse between sambistas in 1929, performed in the house of Zé Espinguela, the bloco changes its name to Quem nos Faz é o Capricho (Who makes us is caprice). In 1931, when the samba schools are still being determined, the group changes its name again, this time to Vai como Pode (Go as you can), a name that without doubt is humbler than the previous one. In 1935, the school was the champion of the first official parade of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
The denomination "Vai como Pode" was used until 1935, when, after the Carnaval, on March 1 of 1935, on the occasion of the renovation of the licence of the school in the police, the officer Dulcídio Gonçalves refused to renovate the licence with this name, considering it as vulgar and not dignified for a samba school. The same officer suggested the actual denomination Grêmio Recreativo e Escola de Samba Portela, to homage the street in Madureira where sambistas used to make meetings. The change pleased the community, also because many people used to call previously the school as the "folks from Portela". In 1939, the samba of Paulo da Portela, "Teste ao Samba" (Test for the samba), is considered the first samba-enredo. In the same year, Portlea renovated things by bringing to the parade costumes totally framed to the enredo.
In 1941, after a misunderstanding with the master of ceremonies Manuel Bambã, Paulo da Portela stopped parading. This occurred because Paulo during a long period of time argued that all of the components would parade correctly costumed, dressed with the colors of the school, however on the day of the parade he came back from a presentation in São Paulo, along with Heitor dos Prazeres and Cartola, and all of them were dressed in black and white. With no time to change costumes, they agreed to parade without changing clothes, together, in the samba schools of each one. However in the turn to parade for Portela, Bambã did not authorize that the other two (Heitor and Cartola), for not being from the school and not being correctly dressed, would parade. Actually Bambã already had misunderstandings with Heitor, that once belonged to GRES Portela, and that he already stayed. However, in that epoch many portelenses favoured Bambã, because they judged lack of coherency on the part of Paulo da Portela, that argued so much that they should parade with the colours of the school and then parade with black and white. After this, Paulo da Portela never paraded for his school.
In total, GRES Portela conquered 21 titles of Carnaval, being until nowadays the detainer of the largest amount of titles.
Birthplace of the great Brazilian samba composers, such as Monarco, Zé Keti, Casquinha, Manacéa, Candeia, Aldir Blanc, Paulinho da Viola, João Nogueira, Noca da Portela, Colombo, among others, beyond being one of the most traditional samba schools of Brazil, Portela has an important participation in the cultuaral life of the city during the entire year, through the presentations of her Velha Guarda (Brazilian term for the oldest-ones (among a group of people)) and of her prizewinning bateria, among other things. The school's simbol is an eagle that in all the parades is seen in the abre alas (Brazilian term for car that opens the samba parade in Carnival) of the school. The Velha Guarda also released an album called Tudo Azul in 1999.
Her bateria - called Tabajara do Samba (Tabajara of Samba) - is characterized mainly by the of the touch of the Surdo de Terceira invented by Sula in the 1940s, and the touch of the boxes with a peculiar frill. It is the most heavy bateria of the Carioca Carnaval and counts on a big number of surdos (a type of tambour) of First, Second, and Third. They were masters of GRES Portela: Master Betinho of the foundation in the 1960s, Master Cinco in the 1970s, Master Marçal in the 1980s, Mater Timbó in the 1990s, among others.
More than three decades later, Portela does not know how to win the carnival alone. From 1990, the school suffers many internal problems, that reflected on the parades and on the collocations of the parades. The best moment was in 1995 when the plot "Gosto que me enrosco" (I like when I twist myself) gave the vice-championship to the school of Madureira. In 2005, the worst of all, Portela stayed in 13th place, in the polemic parade where the school was prohibited to use her Velha Guarda. In 2006, the school recovers and stays in 7th place, and in 2007 with the plot about the 2007 Pan American Games (held in Rio de Janeiro) falls one step, staying in 8th place.
|1984||Champion||1A||Contos de areia||Edmundo Braga and Paulino Espírito Santo|
|1985||4th||1A||Recordar é viver||Alexandre Louzada|
|1986||4th||1A||Morfeu no carnaval, a utopia brasileira||Alexandre Louzada|
|1987||3rd||1||Adelaide, a pomba da paz||Geraldo Cavalcanti|
|1988||5th||1||Na lenda carioca, os sonhos do vice-rei||Geraldo Cavalcanti|
|1989||6th||1||Achado não é roubado||Sílvio Cunha|
|1990||10th||Special||Achado não é roubado||Sílvio Cunha|
|1991||6th||Special||Tributo à vaidade||Sílvio Cunha|
|1992||5th||Special||Todo o azul que o azul tem||Sílvio Cunha|
|1993||10th||Special||Cerimônia de casamento||Mário Monteiro|
|1994||7th||Special||Quando o samba era samba||José Félix|
|1995||'''Vice-Champion||Special||Gosto que me enrosco||José Félix|
|1996||8th||Special||Essa gente bronzeada mostra seu valor||José Félix|
|1997||8th||Special||Linda, eternamente Olinda||Ilvamar Magalhães|
|1998||4th||Special||Os olhos da noite||Ilvamar Magalhães|
|1999||8th||Special||De volta aos caminhos de Minas Gerais||José Félix|
|2000||10th||Special||Trabalhadores do Brasil, a época de Getúlio Vargas||José Félix|
|2001||10th||Special||Querer é poder||Alexandre Louzada|
|2002||8th||Special||Amazonas, esse desconhecido: delírios e verdade do eldorado verde||Alexandre Louzada|
|2003||8th||Special||Ontem, hoje e sempre Cinelândia: o samba entre em cena na Broadway brasileira||Alexandre Louzada|
|2004||7th||Special||Lendas e mistérios da Amazônia (reedição de 1970)||Jorge Freitas|
|2005||13th||Special||Nós podemos - oito idéias para mudar o mundo||Commission of Carnaval|
|2006||7th||Special||Brasil marca sua cara e mostra para o mundo||Amarildo de Mello and Ilvamar Magalhães|
|2007||8th||Special||Os deuses do Olimpo na terra do carnaval: uma festa dos esportes, da saúde e da beleza||Amarildo de Mello and Cahê Rodrigues|
|2008||4th||Special||Reconstruindo a Natureza, Recriando a Vida: O Sonho Vira Realidade||Cahê Rodrigues|