By Sibel Tinar, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Rock music and culture are hardly the first things that come to mind when one thinks of Rio de Janeiro, a city known for its beach culture, carnival, samba and bossa nova. However, if you feel the need to rock, Rio has some gritty dive bars and music venues to take you to eleven.

A performance at the Rio Rock & Blues Club, photo by
A performance at the Rio Rock & Blues Club, photo by

Dressed in skinny jeans, sneakers and leather jackets (weather permitting), you may think that the crowd lining up outside belongs to New York or London, rather then Rio. While the rock culture in Rio may not be as intense as the scenes of the U.S. or Europe, there are still the key ingredients of angst, individuality, and rebellion.

Rio’s venues that feature rock music are a welcome addition to the cultural diversity the city has to offer. At these bars and clubs, young Cariocas, foreign residents of Rio, and even tourists, enjoy some variety from the familiar samba sounds with some heavy drums and screaming guitars.

Rua Álvaro Ramos 270, Botafogo
With its name a tribute to the famous American author, this favorite among Rio’s youth to listen and dance to rock music is located in a converted colonial building on one of the most authentic streets in the neighborhood. Its top floor is regularly reserved for live performances, while DJs play indie and alternative hits downstairs. It also has an outdoor seating area, as well as a lounge, for those who choose to enjoy their rock music comfortably seated with a drink in hand, along with those who are simply catching their breath before hitting the dance floor again.

Rua Henrique de Novais 107, Botafogo
In another converted house in Botafogo is Casa da Matriz, known as the “alternative” place to go in Rio. This two-story, small club mainly features DJs that spin alternative rock tunes. Aside from its two dance floors, Casa da Matriz boasts a small arcade, original artwork, and even an original clothing shop, all of which adds to its alternative atmosphere. In addition to alternative rock music the club specializes in, each day of the week comes with a different flavor, from drum’n bass to reggae to Brazilian music, and it is a good idea to check the programming beforehand to make sure both of the dance floors will leave you wanting for more.

Rua do Riachuelo 20, Lapa
This four-story club is known as the “rock quarter” of Lapa. As its name suggests, they hold performances in jazz and blues genres, as well as rock. “The idea is to bring an option to rock and blues fans in Lapa, which is an eclectic place that has a huge reputation for being the cradle of samba”, says one of the partners of the club. Aside from their shows that run from Thursdays through Saturdays, Rio Rock & Blues Club also is home to a recording studio, and holds regular musical workshops.

Lapa Irish Pub, photo by
Lapa Irish Pub, photo by

Rua Evaristo da Veiga 147, Lapa
Sister of Ipanema Irish Pub, Lapa Irish Pub is located right next to the famous Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Arches). Unmistakeably Irish in its identity, this bar is the only consistent rock option in Lapa, the active center of Rio’s nightlife and Brazilian music. Thursdays through Saturdays, Lapa Irish Pub features live music in the genres of rock, pop and blues to accompany the pints of Guinness and the lively conversations that can be overheard in many different languages.

Rua Visconde de Pirajá 112, Ipanema
“There are no strangers here…only friends who haven’t met…” is the motto of this Ipanema pub that is a favorite among gringos and Ipanema residents alike. Local rock and blues bands hold live shows five days a week, and listening to familiar American and European tunes in a cozy bar complete with darts and pool table, while sipping cold beer is rightfully considered the best way to cure homesickness for gringos living in Rio.


  1. Don’t forget:
    – Saloon 79- at Rua Pinheiro Guimarães, 79 (Botafogo).
    Cover bands everyweek!


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