Samba de Gafieira (also called Gafieira) is a partner dance to the Brazilian samba musical rhythms and must be distinguished from the ballroom Samba, danced in International Latin and American Rhythm ballroom dance styles. It appeared in the 1940s and it gets its name from the Gafieira – popular urban nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro at that time. The dance derived from the Maxixe and followed the arrival of the Choro (another samba musical style). It left most of the Maxixe’s Polka elements behind but maintained the entwined leg movements of the Argentine Tango, although adopting a more relaxed posture than the latter. Many see this form of Samba as a combination of Waltz and Tango. Several Brazilian dance studios use elements and techniques from these two dances to teach Samba de Gafieira steps and dance routines.
Gafieira is usually a pair dance, although in artistic performances it is not uncommon to add solo variations, including steps of Samba no Pé.
The word “Gafieira” can also refer to the traditional samba music orchestra, as well as the dance hall where it is performed. The term gafieira was Brazilian Portuguese slang meaning “low dancing resort, gaff, honky-tonk” or “dance festivity frequented by the populace”.
The style originated from samba dancing in cabarets and gafieiras (hence the name, literally meaning “Samba of gafieira”), primarily in districts of Botafogo, Catete and Centro of Rio de Janeiro. The term gained recognition in 1940s. Over time the style significantly evolved away from the style 1940s under significant influence of Argentine Tango and incorporating many acrobatic elements.”
The steps are done on a short-short-long (quick-quick-slow) tempo and the basic step motion goes as follows:
step – replace – forward (long)
step – replace – backwards (long)
From its inception to nowadays the Samba de Gafieira has incorporated many acrobatic movements and has evolved to become today’s most complex dancing style of Samba in Brazil. This style is present in dance academies worldwide.