Rio de Janeiro nightlife offers a world-class live music scene and thriving club circuit, even outside the festival season. Like any other city, individual spots come and go—check the daily club listings at Rio This Week or the "Rio Show" pullout in the Friday edition of O Globo (in Portuguese). If you prefer to take the night as it comes, start at one of the streetside restaurants near the beach, a botequim bar in Lapa, or in one of Santa Teresa's artists' hangouts, and it'll be hard not to make new friends.
Most clubs and many bars in Rio operate on a clever tab system, whereby you are issued a slip of paper upon entering the establishment. Bartenders and waiters mark what you've ordered, and you pay upon leaving. Once you get used to the system, you realize how civilized it is: You don't have to deal with cash (and neither, naturally, do most employees) and you can usually use a credit card. Just plan to duck out before last call, or expect a long wait when everyone tries to settle up and leave at the same time.
And while millions flock to Rio each year for its famous Carnaval, the Brazilian calendar is replete with lesser-known feiras, festivals, and saints' days, each promising its own distinctive permutation of the Brazilian party theme. Riotur's events calendar gives useful updates on current events.