Monday Night Samba
Every Monday night, hundreds of Cariocas follow the sounds of the jungle drums to the birthplace of Samba and the city's best place for a weekly dose of the contagious rhythm. Where? Pedra do Sal. At the centre of the region known during the colonial time as “Little Africa”, lies the huge, smooth rock descending down to Largo Joao da Baiana. As you draw closer to the neighbourhood of Saude, you'll struggle to believe it's only 7pm on a “school night”. On the steps of the Pedra you will find a casual and easygoing atmosphere; mobbed streets lined with vendors lauding all sorts of tantalizing treats-from fresh caiprinhas and ice cold beers, to tasty smoked kebabs and juicy sweet roasted corn.
The access is free-all you need is a little space to participate in the roda, clapping your hands to the simple and pure beats of the Sambistas' performances. The event draws in folk from diverse cultural backgrounds and people of all ages. Open from 7pm-1am.
Samba aside, Rio's party scene has much more to offer. B.G is just one of the bars in the Baixo Gavea area that is part of a Mardi Gras-like street explosion; attracting young people from around 18-35 years old. Located in the vicinity of Praca Santos Dumont, Baixa Gavea is a bohemian enclave of the South Zone and a must go hang out place to meet hot hipster locals and tourists. Head down to grab a bottle of cerveja, spill out onto the street, flirt, meet friends and hit up all the bars on the block.
As tradition, Thursdays and Sundays are the most popular days-whether it's to prolong or anticipate the weekend. If you're feeling peckish, there are a range of pizza, Brazilian and German restaurants around the area. Get there for around 10 pm.
Friday night in Lapa
The edgy district of Lapa was the old bohemian quarter, and now serves as the hub for bars, clubs and unwinding. There's always something happening but the best days are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Most famously-Lapa is the place to be on a Firday night. The party is everywhere, in the samba clubs, discotecas, dive bars-you name it. For the best samba music in town, head to the preserved heritage buildings turned music venues such as Estrela da Lapa, Carioca da Gema and Pro scenarium.
For a much grittier street scene, join the crowd in the square by the arches. Centred around the Rua da Lapa and Rua Joaquim Silva, this alley is a major hot spot for young people drinking beer from vendors, dancing to music, whilst looking for love. The square is jam-packed with food and drink stalls. The surrounding small music venues are dark, rough and a little seedy but part of the fun is poking in to enjoy a motley of beats-anything from reggae to samba to brega, hip-hop and funk goes. You really won't experience nightlife quite like it, but make sure you wear your trainers.