As laid-back and relaxing as Rio can be by day, at night it becomes a buzzing hive of activity. As soon as happy hour rolls around, Rio’s traditional casual bars—botequins—are flooded with Cariocas downing ice-cold chopes (draft beer) and trading quips and fofocas (gossip). While some tuck in for the night, for others these neighborhood bars are merely warm-up zones.
Rio is one of the most musical cities you’ll ever encounter, and there is no shortage of bars, clubs, dance halls, and open air venues featuring live performances of Brazil’s myriad musical styles. Since Cariocas rarely listen to music without succumbing to the urge to move their bodies, most of these places feature dancing as well.
For those who prefer a more globalized beat, the city has its share of nightclubs and discos, although they are blander and more mimetic than one might expect (in terms of contemporary sounds, São Paulo definitely has the advantage).
Although most of Centro shuts down after happy hour, the more traditional bohemian bairros of Santa Teresa and Lapa have been reclaimed by new bohos who flock to hear samba, chorinho, forró, and other home-grown melodies. Meanwhile, the swankier watering holes and night spots of the Zona Sul offer more internationally urban brands of fun, albeit with a decidedly bossa nova twist.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition