No one arrives on time. Never. Ever. Arriving at 10pm at a party is the best way to announce your gringoness. Also, Brazilians tend to party until late. Get ready to arrive around 11:30pm and leave after 4am.
The rule for beer and most beverages is very simple: the colder, the better. Brazilians drink ice-cold beer. Mainstream brands all taste the same, but it’s been increasingly easier to find local brews, especially in the South / Southeast states. Give it a try.
The sugarcane distilled cachaça is mandatory. It can be heaven or hell, depending on the quantity and quality. If you’re not used to it, play it cool because a cachaça hangover is hell. Also, it’s interesting to know a drink is only a caipirinha if it’s made with cachaça, lemon, sugar, and ice. Any variation is something else: a caipiroska is the same drink made with vodka, a batida is a drink made with tropical fruits, etc. In some places, you may bump into a drink named the capeta, made with a whole lot of dangerously sweet, you-dun-want-that-in-your-blood stuff. The name translates as “devil.” Just don’t.
Brazil isn’t about modesty. At all. Although the relaxed carioca tropical elegance epitomizes Brazilian good taste (think loose dresses / pants with cool graphics, original jewelry with local semiprecious stones, discreet makeup, elaborate shoes), that’s not for everyone. From north to south, girls will go for insanely tight / short stuff with high heels, a lot of makeup, etc. And who am I to judge? This is a free country, and women and men, fit and fat, young and old, will show as much skin as they want, when they want, how they want. Respect.
We’ll spot a gringo once he / she hits the dance floor. It’s all right. Having fun is deeply appreciated around here. Go with the flow and enjoy. But it’s ok also not to be comfortable with some of the more, say, erotic dances that may happen when rhythms such as Rio funk and arrocha are playing. If you’re not into it, never mind — it’s time to get a drink.
Brazilians in general, both men and women, tend to be warm, easy, and talkative. Some people may get this openness as flirty, and, although I’m not saying you can’t get lucky, it’s not always the case. Some people are just nice, and a smiling girl isn’t necessary trying to get into your hostel bed. Have manners.
São Paulo has modern electronic-music clubs, Rio has funk, Recife has the best Carnaval, and Curitiba has a big psychobilly scene. Mainstream pop music is as big in Brazil as everywhere else, but we go a little like India — as great as Queen Beyoncé is, she’ll never be as popular here as local pop stars. I’m looking at you, Ivete!
DUI is a crime in all Brazilian states, but people tend to overlook it. The result is a very long history of lives destroyed. More than 35,000 people lose their lives in car accidents caused by alcohol, every year, in big and small cities. The simple rule you must remember: Never enter a car if your driver is drunk. Get a cab. Ask for another ride. Get a bus. Walk. Ask the people at the bar / party. Someone will always help you.
You woke up safe and sound but need to cure that horrible end-of-the-world feeling. If you’re in Northern Brazil, you’re in luck. Go to a tacacá stand, where they serve a traditional soup made of manioc and other strong local ingredients. You’ll recover in no time!