Unsurprisingly, when Soteropolitanos want to let their hair down and samba the night away, they tend to favor the breezy, balmy outdoors rather than being cooped up between four walls inside. Because of this, the club scene can be rather uninspiring. Nonetheless, in and around the centro histórico there are a few interesting options.
The candle-lit Alphorria (Rua Direita de Santo Antônio 97, Santo Antônio, tel. 71/3242-3303, 6 p.m.–close Wed.–Sun., cover R$7–10) is in the basement of a colonial mansion where slaves were kept during colonial times (alforria means “liberation”). The intact original walls are decorated with antique objects. The musical lineup ranges from afro-pop and forró to salsa and MPB. Should you get hungry, there are great petiscos (appetizers), and should you get sweaty, there is a small garden for cooling off.
The setting of Zauber Multicultura (Ladeira da Misericórdia 11, tel. 71/3326-2964, www.zaubermulticultura.com.br , 10 p.m.–7 a.m. Thurs.–Sat., cover R$10–15) is also pretty spectacular. Housed in a turn-of-the-20th-century mansion at the end of Ladeira da Misericórdia (it’s safer to take a cab there), it reflects Salvador ’s interests in revamping the abandoned but terribly atmospheric Comércio neighborhood. The generous sprawl includes a dance floor, stage, lounge, and outdoor terrace with bewitching views of the Cidade Baixa  and the Bay of All Saints . Musical attractions are diverse, with an emphasis on electronica as well as local and national alternative bands and DJs. Not only do the barwomen swallow fire, but they mix up a mean drinque do inferno (hell cocktail), a combination of vodka, lime, and mint and peach liqueurs, served flambéed.
On a small street off Avenida Sete de Setembro  (near Campo Grande ), the Tropical (Rua Gamboa de Cima 24, Centro, tel. 71/3267-0847, 11 p.m.–6 a.m. Fri.–Sat., cover R$10) is the third and latest incarnation of a gay club called Holmes whose nocturnal happenings were legendary throughout Brazil  in the ’80s. The decor is festive, gaudy, and heavy on Carmen Miranda tributes. Aside from two bars, a lounge, and the requisite dance floor, there is a stage where local drag queens entertain the mixed, yet largely gay audience.
More middle-class and GLS (a Brazilian slang term for “gay, lesbian, and sympathizers”) is Barra’s Off Club (Rua Dias D’Avila 33, Barra, tel. 71/3267-6215, www.offclub.com.br , 11:30 p.m.–3:30 a.m. Thurs. and Sun., 11:30 p.m.–7 a.m. Fri. and Sat., cover R$7–15), just around the corner from the Barra lighthouse . The decor is pretty blasé but with three dance floors (with a bar on each), there’s tons of room to rock out to dance and house spun by local DJs.
One of the trendiest clubs of the moment is Boomerangue (Rua da Paciência 307, Rio Vermelho, tel. 71/3334-6640, www.boomerangueeventos.com.br , 10 p.m.–close Fri.–Sat., cover R$15), which is aptly named after the multiple boomerangs adorning the walls. The popular dance club features some of Bahia  and Brazil ’s hottest alternative bands and DJs.
Nearby is the Borracharia (Rua Conselheiro Pedro Luís 101-A, Rio Vermelho, tel. 71/9142-0456, 10 p.m.–close Fri. only, cover R$10). By day it is a tire repair shop, but on Friday nights, Salvador ’s artists and bohos line up to dance the night away amidst a decor of grease-streaked walls and spare tires. House DJ Roger N’Roll is a legendary emcee with a predilection for soul, samba-rock, and ’70s hits. Take note: Be patient when looking for the entrance, which is unmarked.