Anyone visiting the bars and clubs of Ipanema could be forgiven for thinking that Rio de Janeiro nightlife is a rather sedate affair. With dicky-bowed waiters flitting between tables of well-behaved customers, this seems a world away from the hedonistic image associated with the city.
If you are looking for real Dionysion spirit, you´ll need to leave behind the comforts of the well-heeled Zona Sul (the wealthy South of the city) and head downtown, to the sticky streets of Lapa.
Just a few short years ago, only the brave among tourists ventured into a district that had become rife with crime and home to a rather sordid type of nightlife, but a huge clean-up operation has enticed investors, and manyof the once-crumbling colonial buildings are now buzzing nightclubs and bars.
Top samba spots such as Rio Scenarium and Carioca da Gema have been attracting hordes of dancers for years, but it is no longer a case of door-to-door taxis for cautious revellers, as the whole neighborhood is now a much safer place to visit.
While many clubs open throughout the week, far and away the best time for hedonists to visit Lapa is during the notorious weekend street parties - each Friday and Saturday night, the roads are closed to traffic and tens of partiers descend on the area around the Arcos da Lapa (Lapa Aqueduct) for potent fruit cocktails, impromtu musical performances and the opportunity to try pick-up lines in a range of languages.
Note that, while safety in Lapa has improved, petty theft is still a problem, so leave valuables behind and keep a close eye on your cash.