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Centro Cultural Carioca, Centro

37 Rua do Teatro
Rio de Janeiro
Tel: 55 21 2252 6468
view web site ›'s insider take:

A campaign to push out the pickpockets, drug dealers, and prostitutes that congregate around Praça Tiradentes in Rio's Centro still has a ways to go, but a cultural revival is already underway, spearheaded by theaters and bars surrounding the square. Among them is this inexpensive and buzzing dance hall, which attracts an authentic Carioca crowd several nights a week. The two-story building started life in the 19th century as the Maison Rouge, a clothing store for upper-class matrons; after a period as a nightclub, it reopened in 2001 and now hosts visiting samba bands most nights of the week. Dance classes are also held before the main events start. Soundless video compilations play during performances, complementing the stylized Afro-Brazilian paintings that line the brick walls in the main hall. Don't bother trying to get a great table: All sense of order disappears when the tambores mark out a rhythm. The crowds press in, swaying to the beat, and within minutes, people are dancing all over the place. Passing waiters edge through the crush, marking orders on each guest's menu; you pay for your cover charge and drinks on exit.

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