The Rio “Ballroom” samba style!! This style of dance evolved from the Maxixe, which was the first urban dance that surged in Rio in the second half of the 19th century. The Maxixe, both a type of music and a dance, was a mix of several influences: mainly the African Lundu, and the European Polka. The name “samba de gafieira” comes from the nightclubs of the time, which were known as Gafieiras. With the development of the samba style around 1920, the Gafieira style of dance turned very popular especially in the 30’s and 40’s. The initial instrumentation of flute, mandolin, guitar, cavaquinho, and percussion evolved in the 30’s into small and big band ensembles, characteristic of the “Swing era”. Typically, but not always, Samba de Gafieira is danced to the sounds of these big bands that played Samba instead of Jazz.
Nowadays, Samba de Gafieira (or simply Gafieira) is danced to the music styles of Samba, Choros and Maxixes. Its style is characterized by tango-like choreography, where partners dance embraced together, and follow a series of typical steps. Samba de Gafieira dance style has nothing to do with the now popular and generalized term ballroom dance style. For some mysterious reasons, the choreographies and music ballroom dancers use in (what they call) Samba could not be further different from the original Brazilian Samba.