By Doug Gray, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – If a job is worth doing, its worth doing properly, and the Matriz Group, bringing entertainment and culture together under one roof in Rio, have done exactly that, in fact several times over, and today their name is symbolic with Carioca culture and passion for music.
Now owners of no fewer than ten bars and clubs in the city as well as the recent addition of a hostel, an ethos of choice pervades their approach to nightlife, so while carbon copy ‘chain’ bars like Belmonte and Conversa Fiada crop up with increasing regularity all over the city, a new premises from Matriz could mean anything from a student-friendly cocktail bar to a classically dingy rock club.
“We do not want to have a tavern X all over town, or several houses Y” said Daniel Koslinski, one of the founding members of the group, summing up their approach succinctly. “We have a whole alphabet, with different lyrics.” Indeed, passion and imagination have gone hand in hand as the company has expanded, with varying degrees of success, throughout the last decade.
It was another founding member, Leo Feijo, who got the ball rolling in the 1990’s when squatters moved in to a house his grandmother was trying to sell in Botafogo. Unable to find a buyer in its current state, she gave Leo the keys and so began an odyssey of underground parties where each night catered to a different genre of music, ensuring a loyal crowd every week.
Still today retaining the battered charm of when it was first inherited, Casa Da Matriz has become the emblem of the group, hosting legendary rock ‘n’ roll and drum n bass nights as well as art and fashion shows.
In 2004 with Lapa undergoing a much-needed transformation from edgy, prostitute-laden danger to edgy, pickpocket-laden hub of weekend nightlife, the pair embarked on a new project, Teatro Odisseia in the very heart of the neighbourhood on Avenida Mem de Sá.
It was a bold move with the 700-person capacity considerably larger than Casa da Matriz, but its reputation has endured as one of the best spots to hit in the area offering live shows a bit out of the ordinary and has seen the likes of Los Hermanos grace the stage.
Since those beginnings the Group’s venues have increased in number and popularity, spreading out of their Botafogo/Lapa axis and now with a new Maldita in Copacabana. The Drinkeria was first opened in Rua Voluntarios da Patria in Botafogo, the spiritual home of the group, but quickly outgrew the small premises and as crowds of drinkers spread down the street in every direction it became clear that a larger location was desperately needed.
Today the group has its own monthly magazine, Guia Nox, with a circulation of 30,000 copies every month, as well as the ‘Rio Party Hostel’ again in Botafogo, who’s opening in late 2008 was the logical progression for the group, bringing in foreigners and Brazilians alike and exposing them to their nightlife at the same time.