Rio Scenarium - Guide Review

••• Patricia Ribeiro

The Bottom Line

Known worldwide, Rio Scenarium owes its success to great live Brazilian music and one of the most unusual and attractive ambiences in Rio de Janeiro. The laidback bar and casa de shows attracts a mix of locals and foreigners.

Santo Scenarium and Cachaçaria Mangue Seco, a cachaça bar, belong to the same owners.

Note: The writer was provided courtesy press admission to Rio Scenarium (no food or drinks included) for the purpose of reviewing this venue. belives in full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. Please see our ethics policy.


  • Great Brazilian music - samba, forró and gafieira
  • Vintage décor with over 10,000 antiques
  • Spacious venue has three floors
  • Coat check room available


  • You can't let go of your table forever while dancing - keep staking your claim
  • Long lines if you don't make a reservation - so do!


  • Rio Scenarium - Pavilhão da Cultura is one of several nightlife options in Pólo Cultural Novo Rio Antigo.

  • Take a Virtual Tour of Rio Scenarium.

  • Reserve a table near the stage and dance floor at ground level or sit in one of many groups of furniture on the other floors.
  • Dancing at Rio Scenarium is mainly for partners. Very skilled locals and beginner couples share the floor.
  • Forró (northeastern dance) from 2:30a on every Saturday and Sunday.
  • Shows: Tues-Fri at 7p and 10p ; Sat at 8p and 10p. Reservations are a must so you don't face a long line at the door.
  • Address: Rua do Lavradio 20. Phone: 21-3147-9005.
  • Open Tue-Thu from 6:30p, Fri from 9p and Sat from 8p. Price at the door: R$ 15-R$ 20 (about $ 9-$ 12)
  • Reservations: 21-3147-9000 (business hours). Ground floor table reservations honored till 8p on Fridays and 9p on Saturdays.
  • Second floor reservations kept till 9p; third floor reservations, till 10p.

    Guide Review - Rio Scenarium - Guide Review

    Rio Scenarium stands out among Rio de Janeiro bars, as it helped trigger a renovation trend in Lapa, a historic district with a strong musical and nightlife tradition dating back to the first half of the twentieth century.

    The music at Rio Scenarium is awesome. Bands return on a regular basis, and some favorites like Velha Guarda de Vila Isabel bring even larger crowds than usual. On our visit, Olho d’Água and Luciana Marinho, in the first show, and Leandro Fregonesi in the second did all kinds of samba, from classics to new songs.

    One of the amazing things about Rio Scenarium is how spacious it is. Four buildings were joined to create it. The two top floors overlook the dance floor and stage at ground level, allowing you to talk to friends without shouting and still listen to the music.

    Antiques are everywhere. There are collections of all kinds - clocks, scooters, radios, mannequins - lining every wall and corner.

    One of the corners is occupied by Bharmácia, a 1936 "pharmacy-bar". Its original furnishings - original art-déco furniture and more - used to belong to Pharmácia Jesus, which was located at Rua do Riachuelo 20, near the Lapa Arches.

    The bar serves full entrees (about $ 12 and up) and a good selection of wines. You can also order one of the porções (finger food platters) - shrimp turnovers, fried cassava cakes with sun-dried meat and others, for about $8 and up.

    The atmosphere is laidback, with singles, families, large groups and couples. There's not a generalized pick-up attitude.

    Rio Scenarium is in one of three major nightlife hubs you'll find once you pass the eighteenth-century Lapa arches, a gateway to the district: the maracatu area at and around Parada da Lapa, where you can listen to this vibrant northeastern rhythm, the bars on Rua Mem de Sá, including also-famous Estrela da Lapa, and the Rua do Lavradio area, where Rio Scenarium is located.

    There's a dark, deserted couple of blocks between the Rio Scenarium hub and the other areas.

    You can start the night by the arches and walk to Rio Scenarium, but always try to join groups heading the same way.