The Best Show in Town
In 1960 two starving local musicians, the now-famous Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, wrote a song about a beautiful girl from Ipanema Beach. They could not have known they would turn this sandy strip into a shrine as inherent to the local character as Sugarloaf Mountain is to the city’s unmistakable profile. Rio’s twenty-three beaches make up a 45-mile stretch of white sand, but Ipanema is its most sophisticated and elite, for those endowed with gorgeous bodies, dental-floss swimwear, and attitudes to match.
Bordering the city’s upper-class neighborhoods, it is the beach of choice for the chic and fashion-conscious, who use it for daily preening, strutting, socializing, volleyball games, flirting, jogging, being seen, and generally showing off. Ipanema is a window, a stage, a microcosm, a study of the exuberant carioca ethos of rhythm and style. After a day here, sunburned visitors walk away with some insight into an unhurried and gregarious way of life that springs from the city’s sensual and age-old love of beaches. It is a party for friends and family – not as rambunctious or boisterous as the street-festival atmosphere at Copacabana, but a party nonetheless, and outsiders need no invitation.