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A friend of mine whose opinion I trust had something very disagreeable occur to him and his girlfriend last Friday at Alta Gloria, Baixa Santa, a botequim here in the centro of Rio that I have highly praised from time to time. After hearing his and his girlfriend's story, I decided to post it here.

AGBS actually responded to this accusation in O Globo this week and I have every reason to believe that they're lying as the guy in question and his GF have plenty of cash and no need to haggle over a ten real drink minimum. Last Friday we had the worst storm in years here and AGBS apparently decided to lock this couple out in the middle of it.

I'd suggest that given the large number of cool bars now open in downtown Rio, you might want to give AGBS a miss for now, unless they appologize to the people in question.

Letter follows:

On the evening of Friday, the 24th of January, my girlfriend Simone and I were caught in a downpour on our way to Alta Gloria Baixa Santa . By the time we reached the club, the water rushing down Rua Hermegildo de Barros had reached up to our knees and we were soaked through. Simone, a small woman, inappropriately attired for the rain, was drenched and shivering uncontrollably, her lips blue. When we arrived at the door of Alta Santa, however, we were barred from going in. According to the night manager and the doorman the club was heating up uncontrollably because the air conditioning system had failed. The owner had thus prohibited anyone else from coming in. We had originally intended to have a few drinks in the club and listen to music and we made this quite clear to both the doorman and the manager. Given the air conditioner’s failure, however, it was quite understandable that the owner didn’t want any more customers in the bar.

“Fair go,” I said to the doorman. “But could you possibly see fit to let my companion here in so that she can warm up a bit, at least until the rain slacks off? She’s shivering and barely able to stand.”

After much talk, rain pouring around and over us, we were finally able to convince the doorman to let Simone in. I went off to stand under the bar’s marquee and wait for the rain to let up.

Imagine my surprise, then, when five minutes later a carload of five people pulled up and was let into the club without complaint or question. Angered, Simone asked for an explanation and was told that they could come in because they were paying customers and we weren’t.

Now this was rank hypocrisy on the part of the management of Alta Gloria Baixa Santa . After all, we had originally asked to be let into the bar as paying customers and were denied access, the manager alleging that there was no more room and that the club had become overheated. Then, after we had convinced the manager to let Simone in to warm up, five people WHO HAD JUST ARRIVED were given free access to the bar on the understanding that they were paying customers and we weren’t. Faced with such obnoxious behavior on the part of the bar’s management, we immediately left – rain or no – and have vowed to never return to Alta Gloria.

That the air conditioning system in the bar failed, creating a bad situation for both staff and clients, which was resolved by a decision to close the club’s doors to customers, I can well understand. What’s amazing, however, is the manager’s decision to bar our entrance on the grounds that we weren’t paying customers, given the fact that we had made our intentions crystal clear to her and the doorman: we wanted in and we were quite prepared to pay whatever minimum drink fee or cover charge necessary. To make matters worse, in a recent article in O Globo (31/01/03), where Simone complained of our treatment, the Alta Gloria Baixa Santa management repeated the lie that we had originally asked entrance to the club on a non-paying basis.

It is conceivable that an administrative error may have occurred on the evening of the 24th, given the chaos caused by the downpour and electrical failure. But why, then, do the owner and management of Alta Gloria Baixa Santa feel the need to lie about what happened instead of admitting that things were confused and that they were doing their best with a bad situation? It was QUITE clear that neither Simone nor I were asking free entrance into the bar. It is also conceivable that some social discrimination was at work, given the fact that we are a biracial couple, on foot and were drenched to the bone, our clothing all out of sorts due to the rain. The five people who were let in were all white, middle class, well dressed and had just arrived in a new car. One wonders, however, why the management and doormen of Alta Gloria – a comfortable place but to be frank, nothing more than a botequim – felt that the likes of us couldn’t grace its august premises.

I think that the owner of Alta Gloria Baixa Santa owes us an apology. The attitude of his staff was high-handed and cavalier, not at all worthy of an establishment that bills itself as a friend of popular culture and music in Rio de Janeiro. Furthermore, the situation outside the club to which the Alta Gloria Baixa Santa management was happy to subject us to was physically dangerous, with close to a half meter of water cascading through the streets, a torrential downpour and no light. Is this the kind of attitude people in Santa Teresa and the surrounding neighborhoods deserve from the businessmen who set up establishments in our midst?

Given the large number of fine musical venues in Rio de Janeiro, it’s not as if it will be difficult to replace Alta Gloria Baixa Santa on my list of favorite bars. Until and unless Simone and I receive some sort of apology from the club’s owner, however, I intend to spread this story as far as I can. If I have anything to say about it (and I probably will), I’ll request that Alta Gloria not be included in the next issues of the travel guides I write for. There are too many fine nightspots in Rio to waste ink and paper on a club that is happy to risk the health and lives of its customers.

Brazil is the country of the future and always will be!

Total Posts: 147 | Joined Jan. 2003 | Posted on: 3:41 pm on Feb. 3, 2003 | IP

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