A low light, a few small tables and a counter that fills a small room almost from end to end form the landscape of the Domo bar, in Vila Buarque, in the central region of São Paulo.
But the protagonists of the space are on the sides of the house, glued to a shelf filled with bottles and vinyl records — there are two large speakers from which sets from beloved DJs and sharp choices from LP collectors come out.
The business, which opened its doors in July, calls itself a listening bar — or a listening bar, as the concept has become known around the world since it left Japan, where it was invented under the name jazz kissa in the 1920s. and ended up taking new formats until arriving in São Paulo. In just the last few months, three bars of this kind have opened in the city.
In practice, the Brazilian version of the idea can be summarized with what happened last Saturday night, the 30th, at Domo. While food and drinks were served, Nyack — who accompanies rapper Emicida in shows and is part of the Discopédia party — spent the night playing copies of his compact vinyls that he rarely takes out of the house.
Seated, the 30 customers who fit there chatted to the sound of tracks by Chaka Khan, Parliament and Loose Ends, but they also reacted to them, moving in their chairs or even stopping to follow the lyrics—as happened when “Lilás”, by Djavan, rang.
The sound comes out at a height that doesn’t interfere with conversation, but is far from a mere background track. The idea of these spaces is to please audiophiles with a high-fidelity sound system and an accurate music selection, which matters in the same way, or more, than the gastronomy.
At Domo, which has the signature of the owners of Takko Café, Flávio Seixlack and Rodolfo Herrera, and Denis Fujito, for example, every detail of the layout of the space, previously occupied by a shoe store, is thought out. “We have the noise that comes from the kitchen, the cutlery, the voices and the music. So we need to absorb these sound frequencies so that the music reaches people in a clear and defined way”, explains Herrera.
The methods are almost all visible to customers. On the ceiling, for example, large orange plates were hung to absorb sound, and on the walls, a wooden covering with holes goes over a rock wool lining, which provides insulation. “The music is in your face, with definition, but you don’t need to shout all night to talk. And you know that other people are in the bar, but you can’t define what they say”, says the partner.
The experiences at Domo, Matiz and Elevado Conselheiro, other bars of this type opened in recent months, however, do not strictly follow the original Japanese concept, which requires absolute silence from customers to listen to jazz. “If we do that here we’ll get caught,” jokes Herrera. “Simply translating this to Brazil is very difficult.”
That’s why Yuri Mendonça, partner at Matiz together with Caio Maddalena and Lucas Góngora, avoids saying that the place, opened in September, is a listening bar — although he mentions the concept in his project.
“When this concept comes to the West it ends up losing some of its essence because we need to socialize. It can’t just be about listening to music, it has to be about meeting people, having a good drink, eating something quality”, he says.
With capacity for 120 people, the house has a terrace with views of the downtown buildings and a cozy interior with armchairs and sofas. The night there may be reminiscent of Caracol, opened in 2018 and considered a pioneer among bars in the city that cared about sound and top-notch curation—Millos Kaiser’s business closed in March and operates temporarily in Conjunto Nacional until the new headquarters opens, which It should be ready by the end of the year.
Matiz’s DJing is not limited to vinyl — another rule of listening bars. Customers don’t all sit around either, and on some nights a little dance floor is formed in front of the DJ. But everything there, such as windows, furniture and ceiling, is also designed to create acoustic comfort.
The same happens at Elevado Conselheiro, by Guga Roselli and Leandro Mattiuz, which opened its doors in August, in Bela Vista, in a house built in 1904 and which was also renovated to meet the required sound quality.
“I usually say that clubbers have gotten older. And then we want to continue listening to music, we want to continue having this type of experience, but now with a certain comfort, without that vodka and orange juice thing”, says Roselli.
The partners of the newly opened bars also point to the opening of bars of the model in cities such as London, Lisbon and New York in recent years and the pandemic as other factors that may have made the listening bars arrive in Brazil now. demia, as factors that paved the way for bars of this kind here.
“During the pandemic, many people started collecting records and investing in sound equipment at home. The act of listening to music is no longer something that only happens on headphones, so it’s natural that you have places that reflect this behavior in a commercial way “, says Herrera.
Mendonça says that Matiz is like the living room where you listened to music with few friends during the pandemic. “No matter how restrictive that moment was, we still came together to connect amidst the chaos. Experiencing these intimate environments was certainly a turning point in people’s consumption.”
Domo Bar – r. Major Sertório, 452, Vila Buarque, Instagram @domobarsp. Shifts: from 7pm to 9:15pm and from 9:30pm to midnight
High Councilor – r. Conselheiro Ramalho, 800, Bela Vista, Instagram @elevado_conselheiro
Matiz – R. Martins Fontes, 91, Centro, Instagram @matizbarsp
I have worked as a journalist for over 10 years, and my work has been featured on many different news websites. I am also an author, and my work has been published in several books. I specialize in opinion writing, and I often write about current events and controversial topics. I am a very well-rounded writer, and I have a lot of experience in different areas of journalism. I am a very hard worker, and I am always willing to put in the extra effort to get the job done.