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The Performing Arts

Recife's prime theater venue is the elegant Teatro Princesa Isabel, Praça da República s/n (tel. 081/3224-1020), built in 1850. Just reopened after years of renovations, it's worth checking local listings for events held at this lovely venue.

Clubs & Bars

Recife's historic downtown has undergone a complete face-lift, becoming a cultural and entertainment district. Activities center around the Rua do Bom Jesus; lined with at least 15 bars and restaurants, this is one of the best places in town Thursday through Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Free concerts add to the entertainment, and on Sunday there's a street market.

One of Old Recife's nicest bars is the Arsenal do Chopp, Praça Artur Oscar 59, at the corner of Rua do Bom Jesus (tel. 081/3224-6259). Most tables are spread out over the sidewalk; for a quiet spot grab a table inside. Another great venue downtown is the Patio de São Pedro. Beautifully restored, this square now hosts a variety of free outdoor music events. On Tuesday, locals gather for the Terça Negra, an event with Afoxé music, a style with heavy African influences. On Saturday, a younger crowd gathers to dance to maracatu, mangue beat, and other regional tunes. Events start at 7 or 8pm.

In Boa Viagem the favorite nightspot is Polo Pina, a few square blocks around Pina beach and Avenida Herculano Bandeira de Melo. Recently named the best bar in Recife, Biruta Bar, Rua Bem-te-Vi, Pina (tel. 081/3326-5151; www.birutabar.com.br), features a large veranda looking out over the ocean, making it the perfect setting for a special date. On Thursday, Biruta presents blues bands and on Friday there's forró. Tip: This bar is not easy to find and the small detour cuts through a bit of a dark corner at the end of Pina. We recommend taking a taxi.

For more live music head out to the Uk Pub, Rua Francisco da Cunha 165, Boa Viagem (tel. 081/3465-1088; www.ukpub.com.br). Open Tuesday through Sunday, there is live music (samba, rock, pop) every night except Wednesday. It also has a great beer menu with more than 50 specialties. Cover ranges from R$5 to R$15. The best night for dancing at Boratcho, Av. Herculano Bandeira 513 (inside Galeria Joana d'Arc) (tel. 081/3327-1168; www.boratcho.com.br), is Thursday when DJs play a variety of music, including samba-rock and regional rhythms. Boteco, Av. Boa Viagem 1660, Boa Viagem (tel. 081/3325-1428), is a popular destination almost any night of the week. Serving the best beer in town, the bar is often packed with locals stopping by for an ice-cold chopp. Open daily.

Olinda is not known for its nightlife; most folks settle for wine and conversation over a late-night supper. One of the best spots for a drink or a stroll is the Alto da Sé. On weekends (Sun evening especially), locals flock to this prime view spot to grab a drink or some food from the many stalls and just hang out for an impromptu outdoor party. Olinda's cutest hole-in-the-wall spot is Bodega de Veio, Rua do Amparo 212 (tel. 081/3429-0185). It's just a small bar/old-fashioned convenience store where people put their drinks on the counter or sit on the sidewalk. Saturday features live forró. Note that this is not a late-night place; last round is at 11pm. Another laid-back fun spot is the Casa Maloca, Rua Amparo 183 (tel. 081/3429-7811), an art gallery and restaurant with, at the very back, the lovely Bar Olindita. Guests can sit at a long bar or funky tables scattered about the room. The best spots are on the patio, looking out toward Recife.

Gay & Lesbian Bars -- Metropole, Rua das Ninfas 125, Boa Vista (tel. 081/3423-0123; www.metropoledance.com.br), is a huge gay club for men with a bar, dance floor, and video room. Regular shows include go-go boys, strippers, and drag queen performances; it's open Friday and Saturday from 10pm until at least 5am. Another popular gay venue is the SPTZ, Rua Joaquim Nabuco 534, Graças (tel. 081/3223-9100). Open Tuesday through Sunday, from 6pm until at least 4am.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.