Nightlife & the Arts in São Paulo

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São Paulo Nightlife

São Paulo's nightlife options are seemingly endless, so knowing where to go is key. The chic and wealthy head for establishments, most of which serve food, in the Vila Olímpia, Jardins, and Itaim neighborhoods. The Pinheiros and Vila Madalena neighborhoods have a large concentration of youthful clubs and bars, and many trendy clubs have opened in Barra Funda. Jardins and Centro have many gay and lesbian spots, with the area around Rua Augusta catering to hipsters.

Some São Paulo music clubs host rock, jazz, and blues artists, but when it comes to Brazilian music, the options abound. On weekends you'll find MPB, samba, and pagode (similar to samba but with pop-music elements) in clubs throughout the city—many operating from early afternoon to early evening and accompanied by feijoada or other meals. At forró clubs, couples dance close to the fast beat and romantic lyrics of music that originated in the Northeast.

Most clubs open at 9 pm, but people tend to arrive late (around midnight), and dance until 5 or 6 am. Still, you should arrive early to be at the front of the lines. Don't worry if the dance floor appears empty at 11 pm; things will start to sizzle an hour or so later.

Clubbing can get expensive. Most clubs charge at least R$20 at the door (sometimes women are allowed in for free), and the most popular and upscale places as much as R$300 just for entry. At the hottest clubs, expect to wait in line for a bit, especially if you head out late.

São Paulo has a large and lively gay scene with a smorgasbord of bars, cafés, and mega nightclubs spread throughout the city. There's a good cluster of watering holes along Avenida Vieira de Carvalho and Rua Martinho Prada in República, and Ruas Frei Caneca, Augusta, and Bela Cintra in Consolação (10 minutes from the Consolação and Paulista metros on Avenida Paulista) is a regular rendezvous point and hangout.

A word about happy hour: Unlike in some countries, where the term refers to those few early-evening hours when drinks are cheaper, happy hour (pronounced and written in English) in Brazil simply means the time just after the work day ends, around 6 pm, when you might head to a bar for a drink with friends or colleagues. Despite the lack of discounted cocktails, paulistanos love to use the term, and many bars are judged purely on their suitability as a happy-hour venue.

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