Rio-dwellers, or Cariocas, worry about their image in a way Londoners seldom do, so they may tell you the Scenarium is hopelessly déclassé these days. Don’t worry; go see it anyway.

A converted 19th-century junk warehouse on the edge of the rough-but-groovy Lapa district, it’s a thing of eccentric beauty: a three-storey doughnut, crammed everywhere with kitschy antiques, pharmacy bottles, theatrical memorabilia, props, costumes – even bicycles and chairs hanging from the ceiling. It won’t surprise you to learn this is the main repository of props for the local theatre and film industry.

The upper floors are ranged round a huge hole, the balconies overlooking the live music below. The place is made for parties of madcap chums who can sit round large tables, drink cocktails and soak up the atmosphere of Old Rio or have a go at the wild foro (rustic) dancing.

Do wander around the building; you’ll discover unknown back rooms with experimental DJs recreating their own Ministries of Sound. The drinks come third behind the décor and music, but you’d be mad not to floor a few caipirinhas, made with limes, sugar, cachaca (cane liquor) and crushed ice. Sit back and watch all the nervous gringas from Chelsea slowly lose their inhibitions.

Rua do Lavradio, 20 Centro Antigo Lapa, Rio de Janeiro (+55 21 2233 3239;