Brazilian social etiquette

After a quick shower and snooze back at the hostel, we left at the youthful hour of 1:30am to check out a Leblon nightclub called Melt. A live band played a mixture of pop, reggae and samba music upstairs. It was so packed you could barely move.

At Melt that we received our first lessons in Brazilian social etiquette. This can be summed up as follows:

  1. There is no such thing as personal space. Get used to it being invaded
  2. If you are female and waiting in the club entry line, you are considered a means to an end – men will ask if they can join you (they are more likely to get in if they are with girls). At this stage of the game, you have bargaining power. Otherwise known as free drinks
  3. If you are male and waiting in line for a club, you must find a “club line girlfriend” to avoid being denied entry to the club
  4. Yes means yes, and no also means yes
  5. If you are female – single or not – and breathing, you are fair game
  6. Kissing female strangers on the cheek as you pass by is okay
  7. It is perfectly fine to just start provocatively grinding against a random stranger on the dance floor. If you refuse to do so, you will be considered rude, unfriendly and will be asked “why don’t you like Brazilian people?”. Finally you will be labelled as racist
  8. Learn how to dance like a Brazilian before going out, otherwise you will probably get a gropey lesson on how to do so
  9. Making out is apparently how Brazilians “say hello” (as one fellow Carnaval reveller later told me. This appears consistent with my experience)
  10. Public Displays of Affection are not only common, but practically expected (this is more for general everyday life, rather than being limited to the nightclub scene).


This is an extract from an article that originally appeared on the travel blog Girl With A Battered Backpack, first published on 19 February 2013.

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