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The Edge of Night

Since the twenties Lapa has been Rio's diciest neighborhood, harboring brothels and bars, drug dealers and thieves. But in the last few years it has begun a revival, as old dance halls have welcomed in a young, hip crowd that sambas the night away. Rio Scenarium (20 Rua do Lavradio; 55-21/3147-9005; rioscenarium.com.br) is the area's anchor, a colonial house with a hall, stage, and antiques shop. Bar Carioca da Gema (79 Rua Mem de Sá; 55-21/2221-0043; barcariocadagema.com.br) hosts monthly concerts highlighting a famous samba composer, such as Walter Alfaiate, a Lapa regular who often turns up in his trademark white linen suit. The oldest club, Clube dos Democráticos (91–93 Rua do Riachuelo; 55-21/2252-4611), founded in 1867, is where samba's old guard comes to polish its moves.