Free Samba gatherings

Top5 by Pitty Basílio for people who’ve got the samba moves, or simply really enjoy it

If someone asks about the journalist Pitty Basílio, you can say that she stops on every corner and she goes into every small bar, as long as there’s samba and cold beer. Paraphrasing “Diz que fui por aí” (Say that I’m around) by the great writer Zé Keti, that’s the way she goes around the streets of Rio, from samba to samba, from bar to bar, with her many friends and the late night as company. With great knowledge on the subject, rhythm and beer, she selected the best free samba gatherings in Rio. “I could talk about, at least, another ten wonderful samba gatherings that are free, but I chose the ones that are close to my heart, that happen on different days of the week, and have their own individual style. The gatherings differ but the crowd… not so much!” says Pitty, who after singing “laiá lá laiá” at the samba, always heads to the flawless Galeto Sat’s in Copacabana, where you can “park” your glass of beer until 6 in the morning.

Samba da Ouvidor

‘Ran by the singer and songwriter Gabriel Cavalcante, since 2007, Samba do Ouvidor brings to the corner of Ouvidor Street and Mercado Street, what’s best in our samba, being true to its roots, every other Saturday (follow their page on Facebook). The impeccable repertoire warms anyone’s heart. Cherished songs by Nelson Cavaquinho, Cartola, Noel Rosa, Candeia, Aldir Blanc, Paulo César Pinheiro and many more are sung by the singer, best known as, Gabriel da Muda. The streets get packed, so if you want to be near the music, get there assoon as it starts, at 5pm. Drinks can be bought from street venders, who have coolers spread around the pavement, or at local bars (R$10 Brahma; R$12 Original and R$6 a small bottle of Heineken). There are always plenty of options’.

Pedra do Sal

‘It’s a Historical site of Rio de Janeiro, witness to important social, cultural, and religious events. Pedra do Sal today is where two of the most popular samba gatherings in the city take place. Right at the bottom of Morro da Conceição, which used to be the meeting spot of samba musicians for over a century, today it represents tradition, and is a symbol of black, and cultural resistance. On Mondays, ‘Roda de Samba da Pedra do Sal’ is responsible for the music, they sing their sambas with the audience. Since 2009, the group, which aims to “keep making real, raw and full of poetry samba”, has done, and still does, a great job. On Fridays, it’s the group ‘Samba de Lei’ that runs the show, with Thiago Torres and Thais Villela on the vocals. It’s all great! The small bar Bodega do Sal sells beer in large bottles (Brahma and Antartica for R$9 and Original, R$10), large beer cans, small beer bottles, and caipirinhas. To eat, Brazilian pasties and jerked beef with soft cheese dumplings (R$6, the unit). Just a little above the Pedra, at Casa do Nando, you can have a feijoada de camarão (prawn and bean stew) (R$10 the bowl), which nobody can complain about.”


“The gathering, created by a group of friends that got together to informally play at a bar ‘at the feet of Santa Teresa’, a little less than two years ago, ended up becoming the must go to place on Fridays. The small bar got too small for the group, and they moved to a space in front of the traditional bar A Paulistinha, in Lapa. It’s been a year of samba “on the vocals”, among beers, broths, and meat on a stick. Now the group, which is looking for a new place to be, puts on, every second Friday of each month, the Feira de samba PedeTeresa, at Paraça Tiradentes from 7pm to 12am. There are no restrictions to the samba. The repertoire includes sambas by Mauro Duarte, Jovelina Pérola Negra, Bezerra da Silva, Candeia, Chico Buarque and Fundo de Quintal. The gathering often has popular guests, who are from the new samba generation, like Marina Íris, Thaís Macedo, Nina Rosa and Fernando Procópio".

  • Address : Praça Tiradentes, , Centro

Samba do Engelho Velho

Pedrinho da Muda – an old collaborator of Samba do Ouvidor – is in charge of the gathering that started over a year ago on the outer-edge of Tijuca, which now has a fixed address at Praça da Bandeira taking place on some Saturdays of each month. You have to keep an eye on their fan page on Facebook! The repertoire? Includes João Nogueira, Candeia, Paulinho da Viola, Ismael Silva, Dona Ivone Lara, Moacyr Luz, Martinho da Vila and... I just can’t name everyone, but they’re all fantastic. A tent is put up in the middle of the square, tables and chairs are spread around, there is cold beer (R$60 the bucket with 10 cans of Brahma or Antartica) and food options, which vary from event to event. And there are porter potties, so no worries! People who want to make the most of the whole day, can get there a bit earlier to have some chicken at Rex, a small bar right next to the Praça, in Matoso Street. You could also try some of the delicious food in Bar da Frente, in Barão de Iguatemi Street. All really close together!” (check out here the list with the best bars in Praça da Bandeira)

  • Address : Praça da Bandeira, ,

Samba do Peixe

“The musicians Eduardo Gallotti, Chico Alves, Tiago Prata and Ernesto Pires have been going to Ouvidor Street, more specifically to a bookshop called Folha Seca and to a bar called Toca do Baiacú for a long time (see here a guide about the old city centre). They had been wanting, since last year, to start up a samba gathering around there to take place on lazy Sundays. In March 2016 they started the promised project. Guilherme Pecly, Anderson Balbueno and Paulo Maudonnet joined them, and on one Sunday of each month, Samba do Peixe brings life to the narrow Ouvidor Street, joining together friends and samba lovers. The crowd really sings along! At the end, they pass around a hat for contributions to help with their basic expenses. There is lunch, finger food and beer bottles (Brahma and Antartica for R$9 and Heineken for R$11). And they take card. Get there earlier if you want to get a table! And don’t worry about the following day being a Monday, the samba doesn’t go past 10pm.”

  • Address : Rua do Ouvidor, 41, Centro
  • Phone : +55 (21) 2509-6520
  • Schedule: Sun 12:00 às 22:00, Mon 12:00 às 22:00, Tue 12:00 às 22:00, Wed 12:00 às 22:00, Thu 12:00 às 22:00, Fri 12:00 às 22:00, Sat 12:00 às 22:00