The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

From Page 1 it is not just all that. It is that they make danc­ing so damned hot. To see Brazil­ians danc­ing is to see how sex would look if they set it to mu­sic.

All over the world, in un­likely places such as Ja­pan, peo­ple at­tend samba classes as an in­no­cent pur­suit, a bit of ex­er­cise, a way to meet new peo­ple. I have seen samba classes ad­ver­tised in church halls, in school gyms. But samba is only in­no­cent if you are not do­ing it right. In Brazil samba is so erotic, it is eye-wa­ter­ing. It is not just danc­ing; it is fore­play.

Ri­cardo is gone in an in­stant. A young wo­man in a very fetch­ing pair of jeans is al­ready grind­ing her pelvis with be­witch­ing rhythm on his up­per thigh. I or­der an­other caipir­inha.

I re­alise that out there on that dance floor, I am not go­ing to cut it. The freeform do-your-own-thing kind of armwav­ing feet-shuf­fling stuff that passes for danc­ing at home would be laugh­able among this lot.

I feel as if I have fallen into one of those night­mares where you are about to go on stage at the Syd­ney Opera House even though you don’t know the opera, haven’t been to re­hearsal and can’t sing a note. I de­cide on a low profile. I hide be­hind a flower vase.

But even­tu­ally an Ama­zo­nian spots me through the lilies and swoops. My merit as a part­ner is that I am one of the few men in the place al­most as tall as she is. She is not to know that it will be my only merit. Be­fore I know what has hap­pened, she has me in an arm lock in the midst of the jiv­ing crowds. A mo­ment later, she is do­ing things I gen­er­ally only see be­hind closed doors.

I try to rally but it is at this mo­ment that the caipir­in­has kick in. All around me now are cou­ples who seem to have stepped from the stage of Come Danc­ing. Their hips are a blur of syn­co­pated rhythms. They are do­ing things with their feet that would need an al­ge­braic equa­tion to ex­press ac­cu­rately. I have the sense the dance floor is be­gin­ning to part, the way it does in movies. But the part­ing is not for some spec­tac­u­lar cou­ple. It is so that ev­ery­one can get a bet­ter look at the tall gringo ap­par­ently try­ing to swat flies with his flail­ing arms while trip­ping over his feet. Mer­ci­fully it doesn’t last long. I am dumped back be­hind the flower vase be­fore you could say two-step, while the Ama­zo­nian twirls away with a more suit­able, rather shorter, vic­tim.

A mo­ment later Ri­cardo ar­rives in a some­what tou­sled state. He looks as if he has been get­ting jiggy with a com­bine har­vester. ‘‘ Let’s go,’’ he says.

‘‘ Where?’’ I ask, pos­si­bly still a lit­tle be­fud­dled from the dance floor.

‘‘ An­other club,’’ he replies, where the real dancers are.’’


Copaca­bana Palace Ho­tel, op­po­site the beach, is re­garded as the best ho­tel in Rio and is a mem­ber of Lead­ing Ho­tels of the World. More: (02) 9377 8400 or 1800 222 033;;­paca­bana­ There are no good ho­tels yet in Lapa but neigh­bour­ing Santa Teresa, a more res­i­den­tial quar­ter of leafy streets and old colo­nial houses, has an ex­cel­lent as­so­ci­a­tion for bed-and-break­fast op­tions, known as Cama e Cafe, which fea­tures more than 50 prop­er­ties. A three-minute ride on a tram takes you from Santa Teresa to Lapa. More:­mae­

Pic­ture: Aber­crom­bie & Kent

Feel­ing groovy: Danc­ing in the streets of Rio de Janeiro

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