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March 30, 2010

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.