Places to date in Rio – 1951

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I came across a January 1950 article about “Pontos de namoro no Rio de Janeiro” (Places to date in Rio), and although it isn’t entirely focused on Rio, I thought I’d extract the interesting parts, which I’ll attempt to expand upon. The word “date” here refers more to making out and/or being affectionate.


In the section on how to date in secret,

Right after the Radio Patrol (emergency police patrol, circa 1948) showed up, it wasn’t possible anymore to even hold someone’s hand without running the risk of being arrested.


In the section on the best dating spots,

Dating in a small city is one thing; in a big one, it’s another. The guys in Rio know this. Here, love is distributed, according to the social condition of the couple, via cinemas, public transport, beaches and streets. But dating on the street is the most important. In the opinion of those in-the-know, the adequate quintessential neighborhood for honest dating is Botafogo. […] the neighborhood, once called aristocratic, was always said to be a great place for love. Its streets lined with old houses and trees, at night, allow for conveniently dark areas on certain walls, and these, naturally, become full of couples. They are decent, calm and poetic places. Showing themselves useful, at times, due to shadows that extend for about five meters, perfectly fit for five couples. Those who pass by hear nothing. They seem mute. The most one can see are mouths that are glued together. The neighbors never call the Radio Patrol, which apparently no longer deals with this kind of thing.

It seems that the best dating spots in Rio are varied. Meier, when speaking of the suburbs, comes in first as the most preferred. To date in Meier is good, even if he and she come from different (train) stations. The streets there are calm, remote and full of dark spots. Not all stations have this. Madureira, for example, isn’t good for dating. The streets are without vegetation and are dangerous – there are bad people there who attack couples.

But this is from one side of the suburbs, from the other, the most credentialed is Penha, where the streets are duly calm. Couples from several of Leopoldina’s stations make it their meeting place.

Dating in Copacabana is always unattractive. In truth, couples from Copacabana kiss unabashedly. No one really cares. [There’s a part that’s hard to read, but that’s the end].

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Praia do Flamengo wall

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Above is an “instantâneo” from February 2nd, 1924 on Flamengo beach (with its famous paredão). Below, I’ve dated the wall through archived images. Why write about the wall in the first place? It’s always captured my attention due to the lack of such big walls at any of Rio’s beaches today, not to mention the now-lost sensation of crossing a street and immediately being at the beach, within a few steps of the water.

Through my research, I’m able to see that the paredão existed in this form in 1914 photos as well as in images taken as far as the 1930s and 1940s (but with a high wall and with a more crowded beach). There is an image I found from 1916 where the wall is also really high, so I’m guessing the sand bank got eroded at different times. By 1958, the beach had a larger area of sand.

From previous knowledge and what I can gather, the wall itself was created by the Pereira Passos government around 1906, and by 1961, it had been removed due to the Aterro project in 1965. Somewhere in between, it was seemingly calm and quaint (baring ressacas, as seen here in 1915).

By the way, notice the useful but dangerous hooks in the wall for hanging clothes, and see here how they used to advertise products and services.

Cariocas kissing in cars – 1935

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Going through the 1930s archives of Careta magazine, I found the short article below which struck me for the image of Carioca couples freely sitting in their cars at lookout points in Rio for some face time. Since air-conditioning didn’t exist, I imagine they did this with their windows down and not, ahem, paying much attention to their surroundings.

Throughout the years I’ve spent studying historical Rio, I’ve always sort of wondered when the city became violent, and my instinct has always told me this happened around the 1950s onward (I’m not alone, by the way).

In the image above, one can get an idea of what kind of cars the author might have been talking about. As a bonus, here’s a racing site (and its PDF backup) showing images of the popular races that took place at the same time as the story below was being written (the Volta da Gávea was one of Brazil’s most popular race tracks). Take special note on the racing site of French woman Hellé Nice, one of the pioneer female race car drivers who was also said to have been the first woman to wear a bikini on the beaches of Rio (though that might have just been a rumor since German Miriam Etz is credited for this in 1948 — a post I’ve been meaning to publish for a while now).


A Smile for All...

“In the sentimental geography of the city, ‘territories of love’ are numerous and very well-known. Even without a compass and a “baedecker” (travel guidebook), any clever tourist will be able to discover them. But Mr. Henrique Pongetti (writer & dramaturge), with a gratuitous and praiseworthy wisdom, made himself the loveable “ciceroni” (tour guide) of sentiments, to happily teach us, not without a certain malice, the roads which in Rio lead to the territories of love. Pointing out to us, with an ironic but serviceable hand, these galant routes, the illustrious writer of chronicles declared that the automobile circuits of Carioca love, the “Volta da Gávea” and the “Volta da Tijuca”, were the everyday greatest testaments.

The Paraizo road, for them starts at the granite throat of Avenida Niemeyer, which seems like the Alighierian gate of Malebolge (eighth gate of hell), but allows — sweet clandestinity decorated in green! — the first fearless kiss from the tongue of the world. I wish to add to the geographic tips of Mr. Henrique Pongetti one more automobile circuit of Carioca love: the “Volta da Lagoa”. With the Avenida Epitacio Pessoa being my daily route into the city, I can give my testimony with authority and conviction: that territory is for love, as well…

Facing the placid mirror of the lake, the green shade of the mountain, in that beautiful landscape that starts at the Fonte da Saudade and ends at the court of Cantagalo — there are many idyllic carefree and happy people, every day! Sometimes, the sun has barely leaned over the green mane of Cantagalo hill to illuminate the lake, and already the cars slip in there, matinal-like, driven by happy couples in love…At midday, when I pass by for lunch, there are cars stopped, in whose cushions, the couples get cozy and kiss assured. Some of them, shy and cautious, hide their faces behind the windshield, in fear of being surprised in the criminal act of happiness. Naive ones! as if love were a sin…

At night, when the first stars jump from the sky to dive into the calm waters of the lake, mysterious cars, with headlights turned off, tranquilly stop in the middle of the deserted and seductive landscape, for a moment of privacy and silence…All these couples that pass by or stop there, from when the sun goes up til the stars come out, are courageous champions of a brilliant automobile circuit of love — of the “Volta da Lagoa”.

It is just a question of Mr Pongetti officializing, in the sentimental tourism guide of the Automobile Club, this new and adorable circuit. I consider it as important and as preferred as the “Volta da Gavea” and the “Volta da Tijuca”… And being that love, in Rio, is a sport for steering wheels, it is legitimate to point out this new route of happiness to lovers of automobilism…”

Documentary Series – Rio Por Eles

The documentary series Rio Por Eles is a different kind of historical and sentimental revival of the city of Rio. In it, viewers will discover how foreign documentarists, reporters and TV broadcasting station saw the city throughout the 20th century. It’s a mostly black & white record of Rio through the eyes of foreigners in different languages.

Directed and scripted by Ernesto Rodrigues, the series is the result of a two year research project through hundreds of foreign sources, in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. Nine reporters from O Globo will take the viewer through 43 characteristic locations which contextualize more than 200 excerpts from 127 films and televised reports.

The series consists of five 30-minute episodes, which I’ve put in order below: the transformation of the landscape, the political happenings, the interpretation of Brazilian culture, the style & behavior, and finally the tragedies & disasters shown abroad.

Soccer Fans – 1916

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In one of the November 1916 editions of Careta, I saw the curious way fans were watching a game at Flamengo’s club – by standing on benches (stadiums weren’t yet the norm, as can also be seen in this match from 1923). It was with this image I also found an interview with a die-hard fan.


It’s 7 at night. On Rua Guanabara [1], talking about the sports that dominate Rio de Janeiro, the author of these lines and one of the most corageous Carioca rowers pass by.

At the gate of the Fluminense Foot-ball Club, together is a group of elegant, charming ladies speaking and smiling, attracting the attention of the passers-by.

The rower says:

– Just so you see how sports seizes the hearts of beautiful Carioca women, I am going to do, for you, a quick interview with the most intelligent of these women. They approach us. After introductions, solemn like someone who wears an overcoat to see Venceslau Braz (the president), we immediately start asking questions, receiving the following answers:

– What is the main trait of your character, miss?
– To be a big Fluminense fan.

– What is your dominating passion?
– Foot-ball.

– What qualities do you prefer in a man?
– Sportive ones.

– And in a woman?
– To be a big fan of her team.

– And your main quality?
– To be partisan.

– And your main defect?
– To be the adversary of the team that opposes mine.

– How do you want to die?
– For Fluminense, on a day they win.


The actual interview is longer than this but it’s telling of how quickly soccer caught on in Brazil among both sexes, only a few years after the first teams came about.