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Copacabana: The Beach Still Sways to Samba

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Copacabana: The Beach Still Sways to Samba

World

Copacabana: The Beach Still Sways to Samba

Copacabana: The Beach Still Sways to Samba

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Coconut-festooned kiosks are coming down on Rio's Copacabana Beach, making way for newer, more upscale cafes and concessions. Julie McCarthy, NPR hide caption

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Julie McCarthy, NPR

In the daily drama of the world's most fabled beach, visitors should expect the unexpected. Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana still wears a 1960s look, with its low-slung kiosks serving up nickel beers and fresh coconuts — for now.

Surveying beach-goers on the facelift that's consigning old-fashioned concession stands to the dust-bin, it's the seamier side of Rio life that comes into focus: Cops arrest black kids for no apparent reason; small girls aggressively hawk snacks and knick-knacks; a woman rails at the high cost of morgues and burials for the poor.

Flying a black flag, a concessionaire laments the demise of his beachside bar to richer corporate concessions that cater to tourists rather than the locals.

Meanwhile, a sidewalk samba band plays on — and plans on doing so, fancy new businesses or no.