Lapa, the famous street party neighborhood
Everybody who has been or intends to go to Rio will have at least heard of Lapa, the most “happening” going out place in this amazing city. It’s a whole neighborhood of pubs and clubs, with every kind of music you can think of. What’s so special about it though is not that much what happens in the clubs, but what happens outside, in the streets. People gather with cans of beer or glasses of Caipirinha and move to the rhythm of the samba percussion you can hear everyhwere in the street, especialy under the populat white bridge where the local drummers make the neighborhood more noisy. There are stalls of food and drinks and also people walking around offering Tequila shots and Caipirinhas, so you don’t need to make the smallest effort to get your supply of drinks for the night. The street madness happens only in the weekends, with Friday being the ‘best’ day to have a taste of this experience. To get an idea of how serious this is, the streets are closed during the weekends! Sunday to Wednesday the place is deserted as people need to rest/party somewhere else, and things start picking up again on Thursday. However you make your plans, make sure you give yourself at least one weekend in Rio:).
Most of the clubs in Lapa require an ID and an entrance fee, many times not a small one either (it can go up to 40 Reais or more). Since we were on a serious budget we didn’t do any of the fanciness, but we heard they are pretty good indeed, with various rooms in which they play different music so the whole ‘family’ is sure to find something according to their taste. A few of the clubs have free entry or reduced fee for women, and others just have small fees in general.
We went to a couple of the ones at the entrance in Lapa, before the white bridge, and got to fully experience one of the most popular kinds of music in Rio: Funk, a Brazilian rhythm that has even led to the creation of a new type of dance: it requires only the shaking of one’s bum (mostly lady’s bums in fact) in a manner that is mostly seen in the bedroom. Most young Brazilians, as well as most foreign men, are fascinated by this music and dance, while many of the Brazilians over 25 claim to despise it. What can I say… it really looked like the ‘love it or hate it’ kind of thing :).
One fine Sunday evening we were looking for a going out place, and we were told we could not find any as “darling this is Sunday, people need a day’s rest!”. We later found out of a place that’s not only happening on Sunday, but has it’s best party on that day. It’s called Casa Rosa and it’s on Laranjeiras Street, near Botafogo. The party starts at 7pm and you want to be there by that time, as the best part of the evening is the live samba concert by an all-guys band in the house’s little yard. After the concert is over, which would be around 10pm, the people choose one of the 2 indoor rooms to continue the dancing. They’re usually packed and one of them is always Funk, but you might actually enjoy the crazyness.
The entrance fee is 20 Reais, and if you’re a feijuada fan you can pay 8 Reais more and delight in what i’ve been told might be the best feijuada in town. It’s only served before 9pm (because it’s all gone by then haha), so all the more reasons to be there early.
Casa de Matriz
We kept hearing of this place since week 1, but only managed to make it there on our last night in Rio. It’s again a house, smaller than Casa Rosa though, with rooms with different music. It’s good to go Wednesday through Saturday and I think the music changes as well depending on the day. Thursday is mainly rock night, and some of the nights are oldies but goldies. The entrance is 28Reais but if you put your name on a friends list (email@example.com) before, you can get in for 20.
This is a place on Nossa Senora de Copacabana for people who are looking for a party place on Wednesdays. It’s salsa night and it’s full of foreigners, many of them Couch Surfers. That being said, there are also plenty of Brazilians who are doing their usual routine of “What’s your name? Want to kiss?”.
The entrance fee is 10 Reais (5 if you put your name on the friends list before) and there’s free beer until midnight. Worth getting there early then, I suppose :).
Pedra do Sal
This is a place in Praca Maya where people meet up for chitchatting on Mondays over beer, barbecue and a good samba party. There’s a band that plays live and people sit around dancing, enjoying, talking. The party ends quite early as it’s literally in the middle of a residential neighborhood, so music starts around 8 and stops before midnight. Plan accordingly and make sure you taste some of the deliciousness served by the African ladies you cannot miss in the crowd ;).
Couch Surfing meetings
If you’ve got no friends in Rio, worry no more. The Couch Surfing community here is very strong, and the Brazilians are such great people and hosts! If you don’t want to stay with anyone that’s ok, you can still have a great time together and learn a lot from them. You can find them every Thursday down at Copacabana beach, at one of the eating & drinking kiosks near Post 4 (there’s a Bob’s Burger across the street, in case you struggle to find it). The meeting usually starts at 8pm but the place is deserted before 9. If you get there close to 10pm you cannot miss it, as the crowd spills into the street and people are wearing name tags and speaking lots of different languages (English and Portaniol being the most heard ones). We were told that during high season they’ve had up to 400 people in the meeting – madness)! In any event, they have special prices for beer and caipirinha, so all the more reason to join :).
What you want to know when going out
A few things we learned during our party hard nights in Rio: Brazilians surely love and know how to party. Foreign men are fascinated by Brazilian ladies. Brazilian men are fascinated by foreign ladies, and they’re never shy to show it either. We were shocked at the speed and easiness with which they would grab you, touch you and even want to kiss you. We learned quite quickly that clubs in Rio are not the places to meet someone you can have an actual conversation with (with due exceptions, of course). The dialogue would consist mainly of 2 sentences: “What’s your name? You want to kiss?” (this is again a generalisation, as we have met plenty of guys who were not this way… just maybe not in clubs :p). We later learned that kissing when going out is the most normal thing to do and it requires no further commitment from any of the two sides. This can be however the way you find your future spouse if you bump into each other long enough at parties and decide to become “exclusive” with the kissing. We’ve met people who had done just that :).
Daily going out schedule
We came up with a list of going out places for each day while in Rio. It’s based on our own experience and knowledge, so there’ll be many places you won’t find here, but you might find it useful anyway:
Monday – Pedra do Sal (in Praca Maya)
Tuesday – rest day 🙂
Wednesday – Copa Hostel (on Nossa Senora de Copacabana)
Thursday – Couch Surfing meeting at Copacabana, Post 4
Friday – Lapa
Saturday – Mangueira Samba School, Lapa
Sunday – Casa Rosa, Favela Party in Rocinha/Santa Marta
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