Andreas Wielend is the man behind Casa Alto Vidigal, a guesthouse-turned-club that has put Vidigal favela firmly on the clubbing map. Having resolved to stop pumping cash into renting an apartment and buy his own place, Wielend looked for options uphill. Thus a big, albeit crumbling, plot at the top of Vidigal was soon converted and was, as people crashing on floors and sofas became permanent fixtures, expanded until a guesthouse was born.
A major selling point was always the view. From here, the entire community, Leblon beach and all the way to Arpoador is visible, the Atlantic stretching to the horizon and the sunrise a positively spiritual event, rarely missed as small parties and barbecues became word-of-mouth successes.
Fast-forward three years and the space has become a runaway hit. The terrace was built, local combi van drivers cottoned on and improved accessibility, and suddenly promoters from São Paulo were on the phone asking to throw parties there.
In the 24 months since the first properly promoted event, thousands of clubbers have now worked their way eagerly up the hill to sample Wielend’s work. With the 2012 winter break approaching at the end of July, Time Out Rio caught up with the Austrian owner to look back over the top five events that have made Casa Alto Vidigal the cult spot of the last twelve months.
“The first ever party we did at Alto was New Years Eve 2010-11 with Marcus MPC and DigitalDubs. We made it free entry, with cheap drinks, and expected about 100 people to come. Suddenly 300 people were partying and it was obvious people didn’t care about the media’s portrayal of the favelas. That opened our eyes a little as to what we could do here. The deck wasn’t even ready so we had to have it out the front of the building. Then there was a little delay because of the massive focus on what might or might not happen in Vidigal after the pacification of Complexo Alemão, but things calmed down and in June 2011 DigitalDubs began their ‘residency’ here, with the bass of their home-made soundsystem rumbling down the hillside.
“This was the first pure electronic party up there, which I promoted and still do, but there is less time to do my own events these days. On 3 December we threw the one-year celebration of the guesthouse’s ‘opening’ with a sax player from Italy playing along to Mike Frugaletti’s set. We liked to mix it up, throw in some dubstep too.”
Botafogo Social Club
“Towards the end of 2011, Dan Markham from the Botafogo Social Club approached me about throwing a party before he went back to England. It rolled on until the sun came up and beyond. We immediately locked in a party for Carnival the next year that drew over 350 people and then in May they threw their second birthday. It was one of the biggest parties we’ve had up there.”
“I had been speaking to Tomas from the São Paulo party VoodooHop for a while on the phone and they were looking for another fresh venue to throw a Rio Carnival special edition. They have their way of doing things, and really work the social media promotion, never announcing the venue until the last minute, which is cool. They played at a bloco in Centro that afternoon and announced the location – by 1am it was packed and we had all three floors open inside and 200 people waiting to get in outside.”
“This was the first Klak party and I’m never 100 percent sure when people are trying to promote for the first time. But they confirmed (São Paulo band) Tigre Dente de Sabre to play live and I happened to see them the week before at Circo Voador and they were great. I said they should announce they were playing at Alto the next week and they did. It was a big hit. They’re really experimental and attracted a more alternative crowd."