Locals, tourists bring hype to Lapa Neighborhood during Olympics

Fans celebrate in the Lapa Neighborhood after Brazil's women's soccer team defeated Australia in penalty kicks. BSU AT THE GAMES//Ryan Sparrow

Fans celebrate in the Lapa Neighborhood after Brazil’s women’s soccer team defeated Australia in penalty kicks.
BSU AT THE GAMES//Ryan Sparrow

The streets of Lapa Neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro have always been known to come alive at night.

But on an evening when the Brazil women’s soccer team secured a spot in the Olympic Games semifinals with a sudden death victory over Australia in penalty kicks, the atmosphere reached a whole new level.

With the Olympic Games in full throttle throughout the city through Aug. 21, many of the restaurants and bars in this area have seen a spike in sales with the large number of tourists.

“The area is always busy in general, but now it’s even busier,” said Caê Fernandes, a bartender at Ateliê Belmonte bar. “Foreigners actually buy more drinks than Brazilians do.”

The main street was crowded on Friday night with many nationalities represented, whether it be the flags draped overhead or the long line of tourists waiting to enter the famed Rio Scenarium bar, which was previously named as one of the Top 10 bars in the world.

Onnojeus van der Werf, from The Netherlands, visited the Holland Heineken House before a Brazilian woman told him to check out the Rio Scenarium.

“Until now, we didn’t really experience the nightlife. This is our first time here,” he said. “The Brazilian people are very friendly; they’re welcoming. It is very nice out here.”

The three-story bar has been a staple of Lapa for decades and fits in with the other colonial style buildings in the area. Hanging glass chandeliers light up walls filled with antique paintings, mirrors and instruments.

Music and dance is also a big part of the bar’s culture. A live band plays a mix of Samba and Bossa nova while visitors drink and dance on every floor. Rio Scenarium offers a variety of rooms, including one with a club-like atmosphere, heart-pounding bass drops and no breathing room.

The Scenarium is a combination of the old and the new, where vintage decorations hang right next to a flat-screen TV with Olympic Games highlights, offering fans of all nations a place to enjoy a cold one and watch their sport of choice. 

“I haven’t been here before, but most of the places around here are small, intimate places,” said Matthew Boyda, visiting Rio from Austin, Texas. “But [the nightlife] is active.

“Tourists always add a really interesting element. Because when you’re on vacation, you’re always trying to go as hard as you can. But what’s nice is there has been a healthy mix of locals and tourists.”

Even with Brazil playing in the soccer semifinals during the day on Tuesday, the Lapa Neighborhood is sure to be flooded with Cariocas and visitors alike.

And with a win, one can only imagine the level of excitement that will spread through the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Jake Fox and Hendrix Magley are Ball State University students and writers for BSU at the Games, a group of 50 journalism students traveling from Muncie, Indiana, to Rio for the Olympic Games. Follow them at bsuatthegames.com, @bsuatthegames on Twitter and Instagram, and BSU at the Games on Facebook.

Hendrix Magley

Jake Fox

I'm Jake. A reporter and writer at heart, but I'm always willing to learn new things. Lover of sports and social media who's always striving for improvement. Everybody has a story. Tell me yours, and I'll put it into words.

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