The warm climate and Cariocas' predilection
for parties have made Rio de Janeiro one of the most unique and edifying
places for nighttime revelry.
I LOVE RIO winds through the vibrant districts of the
city, climbs its hills and enters its bars from dusk to dawn to bring
readers information on the most interesting nighttime recreations.
Snooker bars, rock clubs, samba nights, street parades, parties and
carnival rehearsals are unearthed, along with the most sophisticated,
exotic and buzzing bars – food, beverages, music and clientele. I LOVE
RIO helps visitors and residents make the very most of the city's
eclectic, wild and wonderfully unique nighttime banquet.
BOHEMIAN AND CHIQUE, ALWAYS UNIQUE
Nightlife in Rio de Janeiro can be as diverse as the
dozens of neighborhoods and musical rhythms that populate the city.
Rio's nightlife is wholly unique and accepting - welcoming into its fold
people of all tastes, backgrounds and orientations. It is filled with
vibrant music, a spectrum of color, glitter, childishness and
Carioca nightlife spans from large clubs playing
modern music, to small establishments offering the best of rhythms such
as Samba and Bossa Nova, while dozens of theaters entertain visitors and
residents alike with plays, readings, ballet, and an ever-changing mix
or performing arts.
The world famous districts of Ipanema and Leblon are
home to a variety of chique and refined bars, restaurants, and clubs -
with live music, pre-recorded, and dj's available at many locations with
varied programs throughout the week.
The bohemian district of Lapa is now the place to go
for live Samba music, small informal bars, and a very lively scene rich
of kiosks, random drinks, and street performers.
Cradles of culture and musical styles, Rio's favelas
have become the main theater for Funk music celebrations and concerts,
staging ever larger parties attracting visitors and music lovers from
all over the world.
In the months preceding the carnival celebrations,
Samba offerings become the main theme across all neighborhoods of the
city, with rehearsals and live performances happening in small bars,
famous establishments, and public squares.
Rio de Janeiro's warm climate stimulates outdoor
activities both during the day and at night, further inspiring a
truly social and sparkling nightlife throughout the year.
In the mysterious after-dark, artists often find
their talent enriched. Indeed, quintessential and celebrated Carioca
music was largely born and developed in the shadows of the night,
including jazz, Bossa Nova, Tropicalia, Samba and Funk Carioca.
Throughout the history of the city, the nightlife
evolved according to local culture and world trends, mixing and
developing in an uniquely Carioca way.
The arrival of the Royal Family in 1822 formalized
Rio's nighttime recreations in line with Portuguese and European
ballroom fashions. The tone and nature of festivities was set by the
court and determined by the parties and balls that they threw. In 1889,
an illustrious Royal ball was held on Ilha Fiscal, entertaining over
4,000 guests with a heady cocktail of feast, dance and fantasy.
Unbeknownst to hosts and guests, the lavish party would mark the end of
royal rule and usher in a new phase in the population's recreations.
Towards the end of the 19th Century nighttime culture
was influenced by Parisian "boemia." A number of Parisian-style theatres
were created, such as the Moulin Rouge in 1891. In 1909 the Teatro
Municipal (Municipal Theatre) was inaugurated, one of the most striking
and baroque buildings in the city, which still stands today. These
establishments ran varied programs of theater, circus, concerts and
To limit to some degree European dominance in the
city, a law was passed in 1901, decreeing that cultural houses and
landmarks be given Brazilian as opposed to European names, further
stimulating the development of a local music and nighttime culture and
resulting in today's iconic Carioca nightlife philosophy.
Chopp (beer) establishments began to emerge at the
turn of the century ushering in an outdoor nighttime culture which
perfectly suited the tropical climate. Women began to frequent these new
communal spaces, as well as squares, theatres and concert halls, which
had previously been exclusively male domains. Flirting, which had
previously been confined to daytime salon visits, began to take on a
more carefree nighttime nature.
Citizens of African descent started to attend popular
spaces, resulting into a significant impact on their engagement and
influence on Brazilian music, coinciding with the emergence of Samba and
carnival. In the 1920s, Jazz, Charleston and Samba dances filled the
clubs and bars of the city, leading Olavo Bilac, a renowned journalist
of the time, to declare Rio, “the dance city."
Lapa consecrated itself as the city's bohemian
heartland in the 1920s, replete with cabarets, bars and casinos. It
was known as the tropical Montmartre in allusion to its Parisian
influences and, like its French forefather, the region brought
together artists, intellectuals, aristocrats, politicians, and a
variety of people from all walks of life. It was a highly
cosmopolitan neighborhood, home to a vast spectrum of musical
genres, including Classical Orchestras, Jazz, piano and Samba.
Artists and writers of the time spoke of two co-existing Lapas – the
overt, intellectual milieu and the darker, more covert underworld.
With the formation of Cinelândia towards the middle of the
century, along with other widespread urban reforms, Lapa was largely
abandoned by intellectuals and artists, and left to its more subversive
counterparts, until the districts redevelopment and discovery of the last
decades, restoring Lapa to its original charm and glory.
In 1934 the "Casino da Urca" became the biggest
performance theatre in South America, offering a decadent fusion of
gambling, theatre, cabaret, music and dance. Following the
re-legalization of gambling in 1930 hundreds of casinos, from
sophisticated establishments to rough-and-ready joints, emerged to
accommodate the tastes and incomes of the population. In 1946 gambling
was prohibited across the country, drawing a close to casino culture in
Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.
In the 1990s Lapa went through a series of urban
reforms, altering its somewhat transgressive image and giving it a new
wave of cultural effervescence. The district has therefore gone full
circle, re-emerging as cultural cornerstone of the city by night.
On Fridays and Saturdays, in particular the main
stretch of road by the famous Lapa aqueduct arcs, comes to life with
vendors selling cocktails, beers and delicious street food, such as
barbecued meat and pastries. A diverse cross-section of the city's
population and visitors mingle in the vibrant atmosphere, while groups
of dancers and singers form small circles and perform to enraptured
A wide range of clubs line the streets of the
district, playing traditional music, such as Samba, Forró and Funk. The
neighborhood is now is a highly esteemed musical theatre, where some of
the most celebrated Brazilian and international artists regularly
A key component of the nighttime culture of the
city are the local bars called "boutequims." A continuation of the
early beer houses of the city, these bars tend to have a simple and
unembellished décor, which adds to their homely feel, while tables
and chairs mounted on the pavement outside lend them open-air
warmth. They sell an assortment of traditional bar foods, including
meat and bean dishes, pastries, cod balls, soups and shrimp, as well
as more daring and inventive creations.
A mix between bars, restaurants and music houses
typically Carioca establishments welcome visitors with both local
dishes and live performances, with high-end locations normally
spread in the southern zone of rio, along the main avenues of
Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and in the western zone throughout Barra
da Tijuca. Furthermore, many of the luxury hotels in the region
pride themselves with boutique bars geared toward high-end crowds
and international music offerings, often with live dj's.
Another central and unique characteristic of Carioca
nighttime is its gravitation towards the city's plazas and squares.
Baixo Gávea (Lower Gávea), located in the vicinity of Praça Santos
Dumont (Saint Dumont Square), is a synthesis of trendy informality in
Rio. Cariocas flit between bars and vendors, meeting old friends and
making new, drinking cold beer and snacking on toasted peanuts or
pastries. Nestled between the districts of Laranjeiras and Flamengo is
Praça São Salvador, which comes to life each night with music, dance,
laughter and conversation. It epitomizes the relaxed charms of Rio's
outdoor night culture, where musicians congregate to play a vast array
of rhythms, most notably Samba, Chorinho, Jazz and acoustic guitar.
These performances are enjoyed by merry and enraptured audiences, who
tend to break out into dance when the mood strikes.
Colorful, lively, and welcoming to all, Rio de
Janeiro by night offers a truly wide and diverse range of entertaining
options, for all budgets and tastes as rich of surprises as it is of
energy and vibrancy.