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A twist of Brazil in the Bay Area.

SWAYING HIPS PROPEL dancers across a darkened floor. Men step and pose like matadors, their partners' skirts unfurling as the women reel in and out on outstretched arms. Faces glistening with perspiration smile immoderately, transported by a sweet, impassioned melody and an airborne parade of rhythms.

This could be Rio. Or it could be San Francisco. With a well-established and ever-growing Brazilian population, the Bay Area has a number of clubs and restaurants that regularly offer Brazilian music and dancing.

Lambada, the focus of an international dance craze about five years ago, is still alive in Bay Area clubs. A rhythmic melding of merengue and carimbo, lambada came originally from the Caribbean part of Brazil, although it evolved and was first widely popularized in the state of Bahia to the south.

Samba, also commonly performed in Bay Area clubs, is closer to the heart of Brazilian music. Danced in couples or individually, samba has a distinctive syncopated beat--sort of a rhythmic soundtrack to the romantic fantasy commonly associated with Brazil. It's been popularized in this country by musicians ranging from Stan Getz to David Byrne, and its tempos have often been integrated into other styles of music, particularly jazz.

Learning to dance to Brazilian music can be as easy as showing up at a nightclub ready for a bit of a workout (particularly of your culturally deprived North American hips). Several of the establishments we list offer lambada and samba classes before the band starts playing or during breaks. These classes cater to dancers of all levels, the mood is festive and relaxed, and participants often hail from all over the globe. Several dance studios and private teachers also offer instruction in Brazilian dance; call local studios or just ask around at places that have Brazilian music.


The nightclubs listed below often offer music from Brazil, and sometimes a late-night floor show as well. The restaurants also have regular Brazilian billings. Look for these musical acts: Viva Brasil, Celia Malheiros, Batucaje, Terra Sul, Voz do Brasil, Joyce Cooling, Claudia Gomez, Lisa Torres, Carlinhos de Oliveira, Marcos Santos, Chalo Eduardo.

Clubs for dancing

San Francisco

Bahia Tropical, 1600 Market Street; (415) 861-8657. Saturday evenings, some Friday evenings.

The Ramp, 855 China Basin Street; (415) 621-2378. April through October.

East Bay

Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley; (510) 525-5054.

Keystone Korner Yoshi's, 6030 Claremont Avenue, Oakland; (510) 652-9200.

Kimball's Carnival, 5800 Shellmound Street, Emeryville; (510) 653-5300.

La Pena, 3105 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley; (510) 849-2568.


Alberto's, 736 W. Dana Street, Mountain View; (415) 968-3007.

Bistros for listening

Aioli, 469 Bush Street, San Francisco; (415) 249-0900. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Bahia, 41 Franklin Street, San Francisco; (415) 626-3306. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Brasserie Chambord, 152 Kearny Street, San Francisco; (415) 434-3688.

Cafe do Brazil, 104 Seventh Street, San Francisco; (415) 626-6432. Saturday afternoons.
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Title Annotation:includes directory of where to go for music and dancing
Author:Jarvis, Michaela
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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