Ok, it’s official, Sarah and I are in love with Rio.  It took a Saturday out in Lapa (a historic downtown area) to send us head over heels.  Sarah, my Dad, and I had an awesome dinner of Portuguese food at Nova Capela, which felt like it hadn’t changed in the 100 years that it had been open, and then began wandering the packed streets of Lapa.  Out of every bar spilled a crowd of Cariocas and the pulse of body moving samba.  When we found Democráticos, the samba club that had been recommended to us, around 10:45pm we were surprised that there weren’t a bunch of people milling about.  We soon figured out why; the music doesn’t get started until 11:30!  No worries, we now had an excuse to warm up with a caipirinha and some samba at one of the bars we had already passed.

Democráticos was worth the wait.  (It was also probably worth the hotel, the flight, and the visa.)  It’s in an old second floor dance hall with a stage on one side, a dance floor in front, and tables and a bar around the sides.  We got settled, ordered some drinks, and took in the action.  Up on stage was Orquestra Republicana, an 11 piece samba band.  They were very casual both in their dress and in their approach, with different members taking the singing or instrumental lead on different songs.  They played and sang beautifully, while up front the samba experts showed off their dance moves.  Once the dance floor filled up, Sarah and I joined in, substituting our salsa steps for samba.  After three sets of music and plenty of dances and drinks we finally grabbed a cab home to Ipanema around 2:30am.  The place was still jumping when we left, and I hear that it goes until four in the morning.

If you are ever in Rio on a Friday or Saturday night, head straight to Lapa and get ready to dance all night.


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