Brazilians love their music, the rhythms of Bossa Nova, Samba and modern beats flowing through their veins. Music is something that has woven together its culture and the different roots of the country’s population. Today, Brazil’s music is often celebrated abroad via its famous carnival and its offshoots around the world. However, an early foreign export was the mellow tempos of Bossa Nova, whose tempo still reverberates through parts of the Zona Sul, namely Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, the hub of Bossa Nova music. This history of this vibrant music style is covered on our Girl from Ipanema, Birth of Bossa Nova walk or you can also experience today’s Bossa Nova in Rio scene at these five of our favorite music venues.
It was here on “Bottle Alley” in Copacabana where Bossa Nova in Rio is said to have been born. The lively bars found on this tiny street, the Little Club and Bottles, closed for many years, were refurbished and reopened in 2009. A fresh coat of paint, nonetheless the spirit of the golden age of Bossa Nova still permeates in its walls. Its agenda of concerts revives the sounds of the great masters and those of some of the best current day musicians of this form of Brazilian Jazz. (Rua Duvivier 37, Copacabana)
A real neighborhood hangout, this small “hole in the wall” bar is possibly the best representation of the atmosphere of what the original Bossa Nova clubs in Rio might have really embodied. A friendly place with frequent concerts and seasoned locals, the crowd spills out onto the sidewalks and by the end of the night everyone in the audience could be singing along. (Rua Almirante Gonçalves 50, Copacabana)
Albeit somewhat geared to tourists, it’s hard to pass by this foremost historical Bossa Nova club. (Prudente de Morais 34, Ipanema). It was across the street at what was then the Veloso Bar that composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and poet Vinícius de Moraes co-wrote the song that made the music style famous; the Girl from Ipanema. The Veloso has since been baptized after this song, in Portuguese La Garota da Ipanema and the building across the street, named after Vinícius, was converted into a concert venue focused on Bossa Nova in Rio in 1989. You’ll certainly be swept up in the melodic cords of the era’s classics during their nightly live performances. (Rua Vinícius de Moraes 39, Ipanema)
Part of a larger complex featuring lively Samba shows, this bar is christened after Antonio Carlos Jobim, called Tom. Back in the 1960s he used to perform at the bar next door. While the ambience here has since changed you can catch Bossa Nova, contemporary Brazilian music concerts on Fridays and Saturdays from around 10pm. (Rua Adalberto Ferreira 32, Leblon)
A trip through Brazilian music wouldn’t be complete without venturing over to Lapa. Usually more connected to Samba, this cultural area of the city (featured on our Bohemian Rio walk), is a hub of Rio’s nightlife. Virtually every evening, the streets come alive with bustling bars, many featuring live music. The Carioca da Gema is one of these where you can enjoy some excellent local musical talents, often Bossa Nova or Samba. Either way, the music will have you tapping your feet to the real beat of today’s Brazil. (Rua Mem de Sá 79, Lapa)