Rio has always had a vibrant arts scene. Currently it contributes 70% of the national output of cinema; it is the most theatre-going city in Brazil and the country's second biggest producer of singers and bands (behind only São Paulo). With the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup looming overhead, the city has been on the receiving end of huge corporate investment, too, but the big cultural events such as the Virada Cultural Carioca and Rock in Rio have merely demonstrated the increasing efforts to host events on such a large, money making scale. The fact that the majority of the music scene can be found in these huge music venues, also speaks volumes of the organisers’ preference for large crowds.
Parallel to this massification of culture and music in Rio is a counter current of cariocas who prefer to stick to the low profile, alternative artistic trends, a cult following which remains loyal to what they believe to be more nostalgically carioca in its nature. Some establishments have a special place in the locals' hearts, whether it be for what they represent historically as part of the city’s identity, especially for those who have grown up with them; or for some it is because they represent a type of heroic resistance against a market that is dictated by what sells rather than what necessarily sounds good.
It was out of this desire to protect independent artists, musicians, record labels and shops that Rio Paralelo was born. Whether it be old or new, vanguard or classic, the only thing that interests the twenty businesses that launched the initiative is quality. Such is the case for the Baratos da Ribeiro bookshop, which has been lovingly selling books and records for the last ten years. “Here we only sell quality, regardless of whether it is mainstream or not" says Maurício Gouvea, founder of the shop that has become a crucial entry in any Copacabana intellectual’s little black book.
This ‘cult’ cultural network includes such classic spots as La Cucaracha in Ipanema, Galeria Café, several bookshops and even clubs like Espaço Acústica and the aforementioned Matriz group’s venues. Rather more interesting still are the cross-promotional activities, for example a themed film evening in Cine Jóia is followed by a similarly-themed musical event at Casa da Matriz. “We want to take advantage of this period of economic recovery in Rio and ride the wave of this financial prosperity”, explains Rafael Aguinaga of Cine Jóia. “We’re going to continue creating new forms of production, marketing and distributing of cultural goods and services for the carioca who is looking for something different.”