Cocaine and Crazy Clubs: Nightlife in Brazil

Tips for going out in Rio and São Paulo, from the drink card system to the abundance of coke.

 Who’s high on coke? Probably this guy at Illumination in São Paulo

Who’s high on coke? Probably this guy at Illumination in São Paulo

When our friends Ben and Derrick visited Brazil, they hit the sights during the day — and decided to hit a few night clubs in Rio and São Paulo at night. They were a bit surprised by what they experienced and offer the following advice about what to expect from the Brazilian party scene.

Food vendors call out, “Do you want fried cheese, cocaine or meth?”
 The massive, multi-floor mosh pit that’s the Week

The massive, multi-floor mosh pit that’s the Week

Cocaine is huge there.

One evening they were at a small bar. “Of the 50 or so people there, 40 of them went to the bathroom to do coke every five minutes,” Derrick tells me.

And it’s all done pretty much out in the open. The drug use was taking place in an antechamber to the bathroom. “You could straight up see everyone doing cocaine,” he says.

“We thought it was just a weird byproduct of this bar,” Ben says. “But it was not.”

At the big clubs, guys stood in front of the restrooms dealing drugs. “They do it in the open,” he says. “No one’s making any effort to hide it.”

A lot of the food vendors near the beach were also drug dealers. They’d call out, “Do you want fried cheese, cocaine or meth?”

 A gay bar in the Bela Vista neighborhood in São Paulo

A gay bar in the Bela Vista neighborhood in São Paulo

It’s a late-night party culture — and the clubs are insane.

One of the things that surprised them is that most bars don’t even open until 11 p.m. and close at 5 a.m.

There aren’t many small bars where you can grab a drink in the afternoon or evening, aside from some cafés or the few establishments that cater to tourists.

 Galeria Café in Rio

Galeria Café in Rio

Ben and Derrick went to a party at a massive discotheque called the Week. “There must have been 10,000 people over five floors,” Derrick says. “You could hear it from blocks away.”

“Which was good,” Ben chimes in. Their Lyft driver pulled into a dead end on a mountain road and said they had arrived. They were able to follow the music, though, and headed down the hill to the club entrance.

 The Week in Rio, where pretty much everyone’s high on coke

The Week in Rio, where pretty much everyone’s high on coke



Tips for Going Out in Brazil

  • Don’t bring your passport or driver’s license. A copy of one of these forms of ID is sufficient. Have this ready or they won't let you in. Playing the dumb American card won’t work.

  • Once inside the club you'll be asked to pay a cover fee. This varies, but for the night they went to the Week it was $12. If you're also drinking, you’ll get a consumption card, which acts as your bar tab. You don’t settle your bill until you’re ready to head out. Once you’ve paid up, you'll receive a stamp — which you need to show to the bouncer before you can leave.

  • Even the smaller bars charge $5 to $10 as a cover. “Because people come in and do a ton of cocaine and don’t drink a thing,” Derrick explains.

With this in mind, should you find yourself out in a club late at night in Brazil, raise your glass and remember to say, “Tim-tim!” –Wally