By Stephanie Foden, Contributing Reporter
SALVADOR, BRAZIL – While Carnival might be the biggest party of the year in Salvador, its extensive nightlife provides fantastic entertainment year-round. From the authentic sounds of Northeastern forró and Brazilian samba to influences of African drumming, reggae and Latin salsa, dance parties and rock shows, there is really something for everyone.
On a residential street in the charming neighborhood of Santo Antônio lies D’Venetta. The stylized bar and restaurant is a favored hangout for trendy locals, but foreign visitors often come to see what all the fuss is about, and are not disappointed: the venue has great live samba, samba de roda, jazz and MPB (Música Popular Brasileira or Brazilian Popular Music), as well as occasionally hosting art exhibits.
Their famous drink atalé, a delicious ensemble of ginger, honey, lemon and cachaça is a must try. D’Venetta, which opened four years ago on Bahia’s Independence Day, has an at home vibe, located inside a historic house and decorated with local artwork and dainty antiques.
“I love the chaotic decor and location,” said Carioca filmmaker Iris de Oliveira who now lives in Salvador. “I attend the weekend rodas de samba. I like the energy of the place in the afternoon to enjoy the back garden. The food is wonderful and the beer is ice-cold.”
Not far away, in the heart of historic Pelourinho, is the ever-popular Sankofa African Bar. Located in a colonial-era house decorated in Afro-chic style, this is the place for people who like to dance. The venue’s dance floor is often packed with both locals and tourists moving to the beat of live samba, semba, salsa and DJs spinning international beats, especially from Africa.
“I think it was the first bar I went to in Salvador and on that night they were having a spoken word poetry/rap night,” reminisces Canadian photographer Jenny Laiwint, who has spent a lot of time in the city in recent years. “I didn’t understand anything anyone was saying, but I knew I had found the coolest place in town and was just struck by how charismatic and beautiful everyone was.”
While the historic center offers a great night out, the area called Rio Vermelho (Red River) is the place to be for many spending an evening on the town. The bohemian neighborhood is lined with some of the best bars and clubs in Salvador.
One of these includes LGBT hotspot San Sebastian. The snazzy three-story club comes with all the fixes: a massive sound system pumping electronic beats from international DJs, impressive lighting apparatus, two dance floors and four bars.
For those not into the techno music scene, a few blocks away is Commons Studio Bar, hosting some of the best new acts in Brazilian music. Since opening its doors in February, the bar has received buzz amongst Salvador’s young and hip crowd. The ambiance of ‘Commons’ is somewhere between modern and rustic, with the walls lined with wooden pallets and the house itself resembling a box.
These are just some of the best nightlife options in Salvador of course, and it is hard to get bored in a city with such strong cultural and musical roots.