Thursday, 31 July 2008

Nightlife in Rio de Janeiro

Discoteca Help: The Ultimate Weekend Pick-up Spot

This is the qunitessential Copacabana nightspot for dancing, drinking, people watching and picking up girls. Many of the girls here are "working", but you won't find every one. If you are looking for a "non-working" girl, however, this is like looking for a four-leaf clover. The music is some of the best club music that you will experience in Rio and definitely the best DJ's in Copacabana. This is definitely a tourist spot - some of the highest cover charges and drink prices in Rio. On Friday and Saturday night, Help doesn't get going until almost midnight, but then it is usually packed with people. Guy to girl ratios hover in 1:1 to 1:2. Odds are high that you won't go home unaccompanied, but make sure that you have all the details worked out in advance of leaving with someone. You don't take a woman to this place - she will be hasseled beyond believe and hit on about a hundred times. Definitely a meat market.

No shorts
No sandals

Help Discoteca is great, but the area around Help can be dangerous, especially at night. Thats why its always good to have a tour giude when you are in Rio, especially for your first time. I am an English speaking guide in Rio and know all the hot spots, there are many more beside Help! (termas, boites etc.) Email me at if you are coming or planing to come to Rio. I give tours at R$50, per person, per night (R$50 = approx. US$17)

Here is the last thing to say to those of you who are more sophisticated. About half of the girls working in Help are prostitutes by trade who go to Help every night to make money. They are dressed vulgar, behave vulgar, talk vulgar and go straight to the point very quickly. However, there are plenty of girls there who go to Help because they face financial difficulties and don't know how to make money otherwise. I met a girl who was paying for her university studies with her revenues from Help, another one who was saving money to open a fashion store in her native Belo Horizonte, another one who needed money to invest into her jewelry business in Salvador, another one who was paying English classes, another one who had been dumped by her boyfriend and needed money to feed her baby, another one who was trying to help her ruined family in Favelas (poor outskirts of Rio), another one who worked as a marketing assistant during the day and could not pay her rent... I know they were not ***ting because I spent a lot of time talking to them (I speak Portuguese), and I still remain in contact with some of them. Once you get them to talk about their passion, they can talk for hours. Some of them burst into tears while telling me about their lives and how they ended up in Help. Those girls only come to Help once or twice per month if they live in Rio, or they travel to Rio to work in Help for two or three months until they meet their financial objectives. Those girls are shy, they are dressed more discreetly (though still very sexy), they are more careful about picking their customer, and they will want to get to know you better before they make you an offer. Some of them almost blush when it comes to negotiating the price. Look out for those girls if you are looking for great company. They are as hot as professional whores, and unlike professionals they will never fake an orgasm but behave as a true sexual partner, very caring and loving. Treat those girls really nice and you might as well make a friend.
• Theme: Nightclub
• Directions: Avenida Atlantica

Plataforma, Rio de Janeiro

Plataforma was established by a group of Italians, Portuguese and Brazilians in 1980, when Rio De Janeiro had limited options for tourism. Then, that initiative to create a barbecue/show’s house become a business success.

So, that is the story of the place, now the present:

You can go and visit both the Churrascaria and the show or only the show.

I chose the second option. The show is not bad but too expensive for what it is. Basically, you can grasp an idea about the Carviaval costumes. You can see capoiera, samba, etc.

The drinks are definitly overpriced.

The show starts at 22 h and lasts about 2 hours.

I paid USD 50.

I bought the ticket for the show from the reception desk of my hotel, so I had the transport to and from the hotel also included in the price.

Whatever you like, you are tourist visiting a tourist show after all :)

• Theme: Live Music
• Phone: +55 (21) 274 4022
• Directions: Leblon
• Website:

On the first day of my first trip to Brazil, I booked a Grey Lines 'nightlife' tour. It included dinner at a mediocre churrascuria and the Plataforma samba show.

Along with hundreds of other tourists, I was packed into the 'orchestra' section. Still, the show made for a good first–night experience.

Because I couldn't take a picture home anyway, I declined to stand alongside one of the buxum mulata beauties who posed with guests for house photographers. I did comment to a travel agent from LIsbon — sitting next to me — that the women were gorgeous. "I prefer white women," he replied. From a Portuguese that choice did not seem racist, but more akin to "I like blondes more than brunettes."

On my third visit I went back to Plataforma, had dinner in its fine rodizio, and sat in a much superior balcony seat for the show. I recommend avoiding the orchestra and getting into the balcony however you might do it.

UPDATE 2008: In mid-June the show had fewer acts, each with many fewer performers. Additionally, part of the music was canned. Because it was a weeknight during the slow season? Perhaps. But the show was vastly inferior to what I had seen ten years earlier.

Further, performers now stand by you, or your table, urging you to pose for a picture; in 1998 bare-breasted mulattas stood by the apron of the stage and let you decide if you wanted a picture.

And because I made the mistake of booking through our hotel, the Rio Internacionale -- instead of directly with Plataforma -- we were seated downstairs, with a poor view.

Yes, of course, it's for tourists.

But the costumes (and performers) are gorgeous; the music, with its pounding drums, is infectious; and the fast–moving show has a variety of 'acts' that range from faux carnaval processesions and condomble ('voodoo') ceremonies to capoeira (shadow kick–boxing) and other acrobatics.

One thing hasn't changed: the warm-up act is a girl bouncing a soccer ball off every part of her body but her hands.

Casa da Matriz, Rio de Janeiro

A melhor boate do Rio de Janeiro, e a unica aonde se pode entrar de bermundas, e tambem e a unica boate que tem um dia (sextas) dedicado somente a musica brasileira. O ambiente e a frequencia tambem sao otimos

The best club in Rio, it´s the only club in Rio, where you can wear shorts and sandals, it´s also the only club in Rio, that has a night (firidays) dedicated only to brazilian music. the atmosphere and the people who are regulars are just as great, as the club

• Theme: Dancing
• Address: Rua Henrique Novaes NÂș 107 - Botafogo
• Directions: Botafogo, perto do predio de furnas da Real Grandeza Botafogo, near Furnas building in Real Grandeza St
• Website:
• Other Contact: 2266-1014

The other secret spot in Rio is Casa da Matriz. ( It's a little artist 'compound'. Two levels. Downsstairs is a bar and a dance floor. Upstairs is an art house, with many many small rooms, each with leather couches and weird colored walls and interesting artworks. They book 'theme' DJs -- the night we were there it was Rock N Roll (a bit on the sappy side). But a day later it was Trance and Electronica.
A fun house on the 'edgy' side. I can see myself hanging out there a lot.

Cool and chic. Black would do.

Baronetti, Rio de Janeiro

This is not a club with a huge dance area, crazy lights and smoke. It has more of a lounge club feel to it and is not especially large. However, when we were there the music played was top-notch, (DJ on hand providing lounge-type music early on and then ramping up to a harder dance beat).

Once the night progresses there is plenty of dancing going on and it doesn't get too cramped. Door policy is fairly restrictive, so bring your identification and your patience.

It is not a large place from the outside and so very easy to walk past without realizing. Worth a visit for sure and just like most places the quality of your night depends largely on the friends you arrive with and the people you meet.

Trendy, but nothing excessive. Put it this way, shorts and flip-flops will have you admiring the exterior architecture of the building until 4am.

• Theme: Nightclub
• Phone: +55 (21) 2247-9100
• Directions: Ipanema

1 comment:

adrianpadeanu said...

It is a shame that the famous HELP Discoteca had to be closed. It was a living piece of Rio’s culture, very popular in Brazil. Luckily, there are some solid alternatives to this. Some interesting links for all the guys wanting to prepare themselves for the fun:

a. - a place to read more about the closure of HELP disco

b. - a place where you can rent apartments near Balcony bar