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Fred and Ginger doing the Carioca
Carioca Dance History Origin Page title

            The native inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil call themselves "carioca's." Carioca is actually a Tupi Indian or Tupian term (kara'i oca,) roughly meaning "white house," or "house of whites" of the Portuguese peoples of Rio. The river near these houses became the Carioca river and so did all things related in Rio. The Carioca dance was a group dance with dancers holding hands (cordoes) and swaying to and fro to the Carioca or Samba music.

      The Carioca (ballroom dance) was first heard by the masses through a song in the 1933 movie "Flying Down To Rio" with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

       Rogers and Astaire appropriated an earlier version of the 'Fanchon and Marco Carioca dance routine' from Fanchon's same named Carioca stage show, mainly because of rehearsal issues with Fred and Ginger not having enough time to create an original. Astaire and Roger's version of the Carioca which has been modified over time, made "Flying Down To Rio" a huge success and Fred & Ginger a household name. It was hailed as the new ballroom dance, however it really never took off.

       One of the main reasons the Carioca dance didn't take off was that the description of the dance steps were not included with the sheet music, which was becoming a popular process of not including them during the time. People had no clue how to do the dance except by taking dance lessons as the dance was just to difficult to pick up on their own. Also when the average public watched Fred and Ginger do the Carioca dance in the film, most couldn't see themselves doing it for fear of looking silly.

       The Carioca music is basically a Samba with the foreheads touching (Carioca Samba if you will) and is patterned after another Brazilian dance called the Machichi. When dancing the Ballroom Carioca, Rumba movements and Fox-trot variations are executed as well as the Samba.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

USA 1933 Fanchon and Marco (Ballroom Version) Latin

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles ...

n/a Carioca Carioca [MP3] (Astaire's Version)
    Carioca (with Lyrics) Caetano Veloso) (Clip)
    Carioca [MP3] (Luiz/Mourao)
    Carioca - (Prado & Cugat) (Clip)
    Carioca Tango (John Thompson)
    Ela É Carioca [MP3] (Gilberto)
    Serenata Carioca [MP3] (Lisa Ono)

Night Clubs



n/a n/a Brazil
    Hollywood, CA
    Rio de Janeiro
Video Clips (pop-up)

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1933 - Flying Down To Rio [DVD] (Dance) 1935 - Carioca Maravilhosa 1933 - Fanchon & Marco's Carioca
Video Clip not available at this time 1935 - Carioca Maravilhosa 1955 - Carioca Carnival (Rio)      
Video Clip not available at this time 1936 - Noches Carioca 1955 - Sinfonia Carioca      
Video Clip not available at this time 1941 - Carioca Serenaders (Dance) 1965 - Comédia Carioca


Video Clip not available at this time 1942 - Saludo Amigos [DVD] (Animated) 1976 - Carioca tigre ??? $ How To Be a Carioca (Goslin)
Video Clip not available at this time 1945 - Three Caballeros [DVD] (Disney) 1988 - Sweet Carioca ???  
Video Clip not available at this time 1955 - Carioca Carnival (Mardis Gras)    
Video Clip not available at this time 1955 - Sinfonia Carioca    
Video Clip not available at this time 1965 - Comédia Carioca    

Other Related Dances of the time...

Astaire, the Continental, the Mambo Piccolino Samba
Bossa Nova Fox-Trot Maxixe Rumba Tango
Carioca Samba Lundu Novelette   Yam, the
Carioca Tango Machichi (see Maxixe)      

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Carmen Miranda Mayta Palmera n/a
Fanchon and Marco ?Mesquitinha?  
Fred Astaire Norberto Nardone (Choreo)  
Ginger Rogers Original Carioca Dancers (1934)  
Hermes Pan (Choreo) Theodore Rand  
Lina de Lucca (Choreo)    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...





The Art Of Social Dancing Hostetler, Lawrence 1938 Barnes
$ Ecos Da Folia: Uma Historia Social Do Carnival Carioca Entre 1880 E 1920
Cunha,Maria Pere 2001 Companhia Das Letras




Poets / Writers

Fernando Nazareth John Thompson Etta Moten n/a
João Gilberto     Movita  
Perez Prado            
Vincent Youman's [CD]            

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Fanchon Rio Samba Danças Brasileiras
Fred Astaire Rumba cordoes