©Wolfgang Kaehler

Samba Time in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Revelers swung, stepped, and swayed to an intoxicating samba rhythm at MOFO: a club in the Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro. A hip crowd, out for a Saturday night blast, packed the bar’s intimate dance floor on the second floor of an old brick building on Av Mem De Sa. The lead singer, a large black man resembling a football fullback, hustled to the Brazilian beat in the center of the dance floor as the crowd orbited around him.

Guide books had recommended visiting a samba club or samba school while in Rio to experience this uniquely Brazilian music. With only a few days in Rio, we chose to hit a club in Lapa where samba has undergone a renaissance. We discovered that getting into a samba club on Saturday night is challenging. At the most popular clubs you need reservations, which it turns out, are quite difficult to get. Rio Scenarium was recommended to us by numerous people. It is the ideal place for visitors, decorated with antiques, serving nice meals, and located in the heart of samba-loving lapa. But though we called the night before, we had no luck getting a reservation. We called numerous other clubs, but no one answered.

With no reservation, Wolf, Stefan and I found ourselves on Ave. Mem de Sa where we hoped multiple clubs and an energetic night life would provide us a chance to hear live samba music. We couldn’t make it into Carioca da Gema, known for its samba bands, but a trio of merrymakers on the sidewalk pointed to MOFO. A man, talking of the music there, flashed a broad smile and kissed his fingers: an international gesture we understood. Inside, we weren’t disappointed. Men and women in skinny jeans cut loose as the room pulsed to the rhythm of tambourims, agogos, chocalhos, (small drums, bells, and shakers) and a variety of percussion and string instruments. Our planning went awry, but we basked in Lapa’s lively music scene.

When you go: Don’t forget to have a caipirinha, Brazils refreshing drink made with cachaca — an alcohol that comes from sugar cane; it will loosen up your dancing feet!

Our Advice: Be sure to reserve days in advance for the weekend.

For Reservations at Rio Scenarium: Call 3147 9005. Rua do Laradio 20, Rio de Janeiro.

Other recommendations: We suggest going to a samba school to see groups preparing for Rio’s Mardi Gras festival.

This panoramic photo was created with Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery

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Posted December 17, 2010 | Categories: Blog and Travel. Tags: brazil, music, rio de janeiro, samba, travel, travel blog, and Windows Live Photo Gallery.

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