South America has been a special part of my life for four decades. I have lived many years in Brasil and Peru. I am married to an incredible lady from Argentina. I want to share South America with you.
During the day, much of life in Rio plays out on the beach and the surrounding streets. Working out what else is going on, and where the parties are, often feels like a job for a bloodhound. With no obvious listings publication and few up-to-date English language blogs, how do you begin to enjoy the city like a local?
The answer is Facebook. At weekends there is usually a number of pop-up fairs, events or one-off parties that are advertised almost exclusively on the site. Brazilians, who are some of the most avid social media users in the world, click “interested” or “going” to a litany of events – regardless of whether they are or not – so throughout the week social media feeds light up with options for the weekend.
Rio has a rich creative community with many designers, chefs and artists who operate on a relatively small scale. Without a shop, café or studio, many sell their wares at markets. O Cluster, Junta Local and Carandai 25 are just three of the regular stalls that offer a selection of fashion, food, art and homeware. Babilonia Feira Hype, a veteran on the scene, spawned Farm, one of the city’s most successful highstreet female fashion brands renowned for its particular kind of carioca surf style.
And while there’s a handful of good nightclubs – Fosfobox in Copacabana, 00 in Gávea and the famous gay institution The Week in Gamboa – many of the best parties frequently change location. Rio has more than a few palatial mansions, in neighbourhoods such as Santa Teresa, with grounds and gardens that lend themselves perfectly to knockout knees-ups. In Centro, decaying townhouses, warehouses and open spaces are increasingly invaded for night-time revelry.
The DJ duo Selvagem, in conjunction with a bar called Comuna, are known for hosting many of the best electronic raves. Wobble, a group of DJs, and Rebola, a dance, music and art collective, are also stage parties. Last year Rara Festa burst on to the scene, hosting only a handful of events but bringing international DJs to secret locations and using local ambassadors to bring the coolest crowds. When they set up decks behind a goal at the Maracanã stadium, it wasn’t just the football fans that went wild.
There is also a delightful fluidity to nights in Rio. Cariocas are loath to commit and so plans are rarely put in place. Friends are often found and made at local watering holes, which means that a quiet drink with the best of intentions can easily meander into a marathon evening with bed at dawn. Bars don’t have set closing times, and if you get talking to a friendly local, which you surely will, they’ll be happy to tell you what they are up to and where you should go next.