Clubbing Etiquette Brazil: The Unspoken Rules of a Brazilian Nightclub

Scenario: Brazilian girl dances on the dance floor of the club with a couple of her friends. Guy approaches her and starts talking to her. Guy offers to buy her a drink, girl throws him a look and skeptically says no thanks. Guy stays with the girl the rest of the night dancing and talking. Guy kisses her and she kisses him back enthusiastically. Guy tries to bring her home, girl is disgusted. Guy is confused and goes home alone.

The guy here is obviously foreign – Portuguese, in this specific example that happened to my ex-colleague ;). He was not familiar with how Brazilians play “the game”. After speaking with many Brazilian men and women from multiple regions and having experienced these situations first-hand, I have gleaned the unspoken rules of a Brazilian nightclub (balada, in Portuguese).

The Unspoken Rules of a Brazilian Nightclub

Women

  • A woman shall not initiate conversation with a man, even if she is attracted to him
  • Therefore, a woman shall dress to the nines, use lots of makeup, and wear super high heels when going clubbing. She shall try to make contact  and dance close to the man in hopes of getting noticed (Brazilian girls are as a whole extremely dressed up at clubs, in contrast to men)
  • When a man approaches the woman, she shall engage in conversation/flirt with him until he tries to kiss her
  • If the woman likes the man, she shall allow him to kiss her, if not, she says no and the man shall move on
  • A woman shall not go home with a man on the same night

Men

  • A man shall approach a woman he is interested in and engage in small talk, or invite her to dance
  • After 5 minutes, a man shall go in for the kiss
  • If you wait too long to kiss the girl, your friends will think you are a pussy and the girl will think you are not that interested in her
  • If the girl refuses, the man shall talk some more sweet talk and try again to close the deal in a couple minutes
  • If the girl still refuses, the man shall gracefully walk off and find another girl to kiss. In Portuguese, when you make out with someone in a club, it is called “ficar”
  • If a man is not interested in the girl, he shall not talk to her, not even just friendly banter, as this will create confusion
  • If a man’s girl friend (or a girl the man is in the process of hitting on)  is being approached by another man, he shall step up and announce that she is already accompanied (“ela já está acompanhada”). When this happens, the other man shall leave.
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This probably seems formulaic, but it applies to 95% of the situations in night clubs! Foreigners are often stunned by the speed of how everything happens: One moment a man approaches you out of nowhere, 2 minutes later he tries to kiss you, and the next moment he disappears and another guy comes to repeat the “speed date” process over again. Ladies – Because of the speed of the process and the fact that men rely on their words rather than on their wallet, you shouldn’t expect to get free drinks easily here in Brazil… It’s not you it’s them!

As one Brazilian guy  once explained to me, Brazilian men are trained from a young age, like in their preteens, to try really hard to get girls. Therefore, they have a lot of pickup lines up their sleeve, can be aggressive, and bounce back from rejection really well. In fact, they seem to shake rejection off in 2 seconds as they move on to trying to kiss another girl … I remember feeling a bit offended when a guy first said to me “I really like you”, and when I didn’t want to kiss him he immediately went to look for another girl…

I have to say I am not a fan of the way things work here, whatever happened to just having good old conversation and making friends? Or to a woman approaching a man if she wishes to? I’ve tried to introduce my way of thinking to some Brazilian friends, unfortunately to no avail =)

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