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Fado Music, Lisbon

Portugal's insider take:

The melancholic (well, tragic), soulful acoustic songs belted out late at night in smoky clubs are welded to the culture of Portugal, but the real deal can be hard for mere visitors to access. The Bairro Alto and Alfama are the best neighborhoods for fado venues. There's no shortage of places to hear the music, but the very best clubs are hidden away in dives and after-hours restaurants—in fact, the whole culture is after-hours, and you'll have to stay out till dawn to catch the true spirit. One to try is the longstanding Parreirinha de Alfama (1 Beco do Espìrito Santo; 351-21-886-8209). If you're lucky, you'll happen on one of the new-wave fadistas who are bringing the gypsy-Afro-European genre to a new, younger audience; the 30-year-old Mariza, with her dramatic formfitting black gowns and platinum-blond cornrows, is the best-known of them all.

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