In São Paulo, nightclubs aimed at the moneyed set open and close with amazing speed. But if you're quick, willing to pay the hefty cover prices, or influential enough to get your name on a VIP list – just being a model or even a journalist, sadly, isn't enough – you'll enter a world populated by the heirs to great fortunes, top celebrities, and among them, some of the most beautiful and fashionably dressed women in town.
Presenting a luxury alternative to the typically trashy Centro end of Rua Augusta, Le Réve (opened in July 2013) is a multi-floor club inside a stunning, restored mansion, rocking a playlist of hits from the last twenty years and a clientele at ease with the club's upmarket prices and high minimum spend.
When it opened its doors in 2000, Disco, was the pioneer of a new generation of exclusive nightclubs. Today, many of its former habitués – local supermodels Ana Beatriz Barros and Mariana Weickert, among them – have flitted on to newer pastures, but Disco nevertheless remains a stalwart: a refuge for those who who know what they like. In September 2012, the club underwent a renovation, with the stunning space originally created by the architect Isay Weinfeld being updated by the young pretender Guto Requena, who also created the sumptuous interior of the nightclub Hot Hot.
The change can be seen in Disco's iconic entrance tunnel, now plastered with decals, neon and acrylic. Inside, where well-known faces from the London–Ibiza–New York–São Paulo jet set strut their stuff, the low ceilings and the potent throb of a Funktion-One sound system make this one of the best dancefloors on the circuit.
|The 'in' club of the moment for the rich kids, Provocateur packs 'em in|
Joining Disco at the top of the range, in August 2012 the first outpost of the New York club Provocateur opened here in São Paulo, including one bar that serves drinks made exclusively with Jose Cuervo tequila (Cuervo platinum margarita, R$38). For big spenders who prefer a drop of the golden nectar, a 1.5-litre bottle of 18-year-old The Macallan whisky goes for R$8,200. There's a comfortable outside smoking area complete with thick, leafy fig trees, while inside, at the peak of the party, nitrogen jets are fired to refresh the dancefloor.
Another ostentatious import is Louis, sister to the original in Miami Beach, and an instant hit with the celebrity crowd when it opened in a prime Itaim location in March 2012. The plush club, adorned with mirrors and chandeliers, has a mezzanine floor – ideal for spotting social butterflies on the dancefloor – and is at its busiest Thursday nights.
Meanwhile in Pinheiros, new energy is transforming the gritty Largo da Batata into something new and different, with low-end brothels starting to give way to clubs like Casa 92 and Bar Secreto, anchoring the newly baptized (perhaps prematurely) 'Baixo Pinheiros'. Bar Secreto is a favourite with good-looking twentysomething and thirtysomething mauricinhos (preppies) and fashionistas, rocking looks put together at shops like American Apparel and Topshop, the latter recently arrived in São Paulo by way of London, in the luxury shopping mall JK Iguatemi.
Look out for the hot nights Freakstyle (rock and pop) and Tropicanalha (technomelody, electromelody, technobrega, and tropicália), both held on Wednesdays. Madonna, Bono and Vampire Weekend partied here on their respective visits to Brazil, and as a result, the club tends to fill up when the city hosts international concerts, with fans looking to rub shoulders after hours with their idols.
|The shiny entrance to Disco|
Finally, until the end of December 2013, the eclectic hipster hangout Cartel 011 will share its edgy space with the pop-up Absolut Inn, the second rendition of its kind by the Swedish vodka brand (last year's maiden mixer was on ultra-chic Rua Oscar Freire). The trendy, itinerant bar has music and an array of Absolut concoctions to choose from. Start with a refreshing Granatäpple (Absolut Citron, Cointreau, pomegranate and raspberry juice, R$12) or an Äpplet (Absolut Vanilla, apple juice and lime, R$12), and enjoy the fly-by-night space while it lasts.
Absolut inn is at Cartel 011, Rua Artur de Azevedo 517, Jardim Paulista (3081 4171/ cartel011.com.br). Prices minimum spend R$30 (after 9pm). Read more on Absolut Inn
Bar Secreto is at Rua Álvaro Anes 97, Pinheiros (3032 4334/ chez.com.br/barsecreto). Cover R$50-$80. Read more on Bar Secreto
Disco is at Rua Atílio Innocenti 160, Itaim Bibi (3078 0404/ clubdisco.com.br). Cover R$80-$180. Read more on Disco
Le Rêve Rua Marquês de Paranaguá 329, Consolação (3045 8144 / lereveclub.com.br). Cover R$60-$75.
Louis is at Rua Amauri 282, Itaim Bibi (3079 5020/ louissp.com.br). Cover R$100-$200 (includes credit at the bar).
Provocateur is at Rua Jerônimo da Veiga 163, Itaim Bibi (2339 2597/ provocateurclubsp.com.br). Cover R$50-$300. Read more on Provocateur
- Prices were correct as of November 2012