- Underground electronic music has yet to fully take root in Rio de Janeiro. Just look at the South American diary of most DJs: The vast majority of high-profile house and techno names head straight for Sao Paulo when visiting Brazil before making the pilgrimage to the legendary Warung some 1000km down the coast. For the most part, events in the city are characterised by mainstream, commercial dance and psytrance, banging and clanging to a toned and tanned crowd who, with respect, deserve a little bit more. Underground, music-orientated venues in Rio can be counted on one hand: Pretty sparse for a city of over six million party-loving inhabitants, most of whom are unwilling or unable to pay the high entry charges for the clubs that do exist.
There are some quality nights to be found, though, and Mi.Ni.Ma. looked like one of them, bringing a more refined and forward-thinking ethos to the sun-kissed city.
The setting on this night, Cais do Oriente, was a swanky bar/nightclub and restaurant in the business district, a few kilometres from the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. On the menu? A starter of local Brazilian talent followed by a selection of visiting German main courses.
Cais do Oriente looked a bit like a giant conservatory, with a high glass ceiling and a variety of plants encircling the dance floor. The DJ booth stood in front of a slightly half-hearted light display which looked as though it had once been wrapped around a Christmas tree. "Fashionably late" is a concept taken to its extremes in Brazil. Consequently, Joao Paulo and Soter Baroni's deep and groove-laden warm-up was enjoyed by a privileged few. Martin Eyerer took the controls at around 1:30 AM, and the club was still barely half-full. The Kling Klong veteran has seen it all before, though, and pressed on with lively, danceable tech house including his latest release with Oliver Klein, "Black Forest Cherry Cake."
Following Eyerer was fellow German Daniel Steinberg, one of Berlin's more prolific DJ/producers. Playing to a now full club, the stripped down sound that came through the adequate if not spectacular soundsystem, was testament to Steinberg's minimal roots. Polished mixing and track selection including his own "Rush Me" had dance floor heads bobbing and the DJ fully engaged. That buzzing atmosphere that makes a club night special, unfortunately never quite materialized however. The venue, DJ and music boxes were all ticked; the only ingredient missing was an up-for-it crowd, ready to forget themselves. If promoters keep putting on nights like this, though, the scene will no doubt continue to evolve. And who knows? Perhaps more of the industry's bigger names might choose to add Rio de Janeiro to their busy touring schedules.