Published May 25, 2005

With fortune on our side, some members of my little group in Rio made friends with some locals, and said locals invited us out for dinner and dancing at a Samba club. And I have discovered why Brazillians are so skinny: Samba!

Honestly, I just wanted to sleep in after staying up too late my last night in São Paulo and then getting up too early for the flight to Rio. But, of course, the party vibes of the city prevented that, so I fell in with my compadres and got the front-seat view of a cab ride to the Severyna Samba club in the Laranjeiras section of town.

First we started out with some food from the northeast of Brazil, and it was incredible. A friend and I shared two kinds of beef, one shredded, and one dried, then moistened again, both sauteed with onions. On the side were potatoes and manioc. I paired this with the incredible Açai juice, which is smokey and buttery and yet reminiscent of blackberries (and, later, with a kiwi-flavored caipirhina). The enormous plate, for just about $10, filled me and my friend up, although I probably could have eaten such incredible food until I exploded. In a fun local trick, this food, and all the drinks I ordered as I danced the night away, were marked on a paper that I held and that I turned in to the register at the end of the night, paying off all at once (with credit! how convenient).

Then the Samba. I once took, with the Wonderful Girlfriend, a Samba class, and I remembered a little of it, so I got up and started to shake my thing just a little bit. Then I discovered that the guy at the table next to me was a professional Samba dancer from New York, and he gave me some quick lessons. In a few, I was shaking it like I knew what I was doing — or, at least, I was feeling confident enough to believe I was, despite evidence otherwise.

Four and a half hours later, the musicians finally called it a night. That was four and half hours of sweat, exertion, exercise, and, most of all, fun. I danced with friends, I danced with Brazillians, I danced with the Brazillian friend who took us to the club. The rhythm was addictive and I just couldn’t help myself — and that’s a statement that many who know me would never think I would say. But now I love Samba! I can’t wait to go dancing again.