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Clube Internacional do Recife – Recife International Club

It has remained famous to this day for holding the Bal Masqué. The Club, with over a century in existence, has experienced different realities. It began during the time when the empire became the Republic.

Clube Internacional do Recife – Recife International Club

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Last update: 05/06/2015

By: Virginia Barbosa - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

It began as the Clube Regatas Ultramarino – Transmarine Regatta Club – with the initiative of Antonio João d’Amorim, later the Baron of Casa Forte. João d’Amorim was president of the Pernambuco Commercial Association several times, and directed the club he founded thirteen times. Along with members who represented the Pernambuco elite, he held the first policy meeting of the Transmarine Regatta Club on 17 July 1885 on the first floor of an existing colonial manor house, at number 11 Largo do Corpo Santo, in the Recife port neighbourhood.
Following this meeting, the club changed its name to Clube Internacional de Regatas – the International Regatta Club, since members from various nationalities formed the club – as justified by the Board in a notice in the Jornal do Recife on July 18. The directors of the newly-formed club were: Antônio João d’Amorim, president; Joaquim Alves da Fonseca, secretary; and João do Livramento, treasurer. A committee was also formed to draw up the statutes, which included José Joaquim Pereira, Manoel Hughes, Euzébio dos Passos Cardoso, Arthur Dallas and João Victor da Cruz Alfarra.
However, over time, the initial objective of its creation – as a rowing club exclusively – became unreachable. It was only able to hold six regattas, with the last, according to press records, held on 8 September 1888. It opened spaces for other activities that were very much in vogue in the social life of the time, such as dance evenings, festive dances and card games. In 1889, its name was changed to Clube Internacional do Recife – Recife International Club. However, sports continued to be part of its activities: volleyball, basketball, swimming, roller hockey, automotive competitions and tennis.
From 1914, the club moved to 265 Rua da Aurora. The mid-1930s saw a severe economic crisis. With only 32 members, the fight was on to save two-thirds of its assets. Hope of overcoming the crisis came when the Recife City Council purchased the Aurora Street building to use it for the municipal government. In addition, stories and advertisements supporting the Club were published in newspapers. Only in 1937 was the Solar do Benfica mansion in the Madalena neighbourhood purchased, where until this day the Club’s headquarters operates. In 1937, the building underwent renovations that included expansion and adaptation of part of its facilities to meet the entertainment needs of its members. Thus, the State Legislative Assembly declared the Club a public utility.
The mansion is colonial, with superb and imposing lines, and dominates the landscape in front of Euclides da Cunha Square. A 1942 magazine article in Rio de Janeiro’s Ilustração Brasileira highlighted the importance of the Club for Pernambuco society at the time (“the largest and most aristocratic recreational centre in northern Brazil”) and described some aspects of its facilities: staircases, tiles, dance halls – according to the article, the largest in the north of the country, feasting and honour, columns, gardens, furniture and decoration.
Throughout its history, the International Club of Recife has also opened its doors to promote classical music concerts, recitals, ballets and, despite its aristocratic fame, for charitable parties.
It has remained famous to this day for holding the Bal Masqué. This carnival ball, created in 1948 by the then president of the Club, João Pereira Borges, was first held in the grand hall on January 31 of that year, and in addition to costumes and formal attire, brought the ritual of tradition.
João Pereira Borges was also the creator of the Clube Internacional magazine in 1947, “a free publication and where members of the International Club of Recife, can become aware of the operations of their guild.” (MATOS, 1985, p. 59). The magazine achieved success when journalist Altamiro Cunha took over its direction. He made the magazine “more than a parochial club magazine. He gave it drive, rich texts, multiple and skilled reports, joining were the most significant figures in our so-calling literary world [...]”. Pernambuco intellectuals like Mauro Mota, Edson Regis, Gilberto Osório de Andrade, Aderbal Jurema, Nilo Pereira and others, who whether or not having their articles published in the magazine, were unanimous in recognizing its importance as a record of the Club’s activities, Recife’s social life and a source of literary studies that on most of its pages contained poems, essays, short stories and articles.
Another initiative, this time from President José Jorge de Farias Sales Filho, was the Vôo do Frevo – Frevo Flights – that aimed to spread and publicise the Pernambuco Carnival, and especially frevo music. From 1968 until 1984, five flights were made to Rio de Janeiro (the first and second flights), Manaus, Fortaleza and Miami.

Besides special guests, representatives of the city’s leading clubs and the Paraíba and Alagoas Interclubs, the Frevo Flight will take two of our best orchestras for special presentations in Rio: Nelson Ferreira and José Menezes, as well as dancers and composers. [...] With a view to greater awareness, the delegation will take thousands of copies of the latest issue of the International Club Magazine and the EP [a small vinyl record, recorded in 33 1/3 or 45 rpm] Carnaval no Internacional (frevo song) recorded by Mocambo, and Clube Internacional (waltz) authored by Maestro Nelson Ferreira to distribute in Rio. (MATOS, 1985, p. 63).

In 1985, the year of its centenary, represented by its president Jose Paes de Andrade, the club promoted a series of commemorative events, among which were: the Tap Beer Festival, the 1st International Frevo Flight, the Champion Clubs of the Region Tennis Championship, Culture Night, a Performance by the Pernambuco Symphony Orchestra and the Official Centennial Ball.

The Club, with over a century in existence, has experienced different realities. It began during the time when the empire became the Republic. It has had its ups and downs and yet is standing today still associated with Recife’s social scene. The exclusively aristocratic posture changed from Jose Paes de Andrade’s management onward. It became democratic, opened itself up to society as a whole and today hosts shows of forró, funk, tecnobrega, reggae and others.

Recife, 29 October 2013.
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2015.

sources consulted

CLUBE Internacional do Recife. Available at: <>. Accessed: 29 out. 2013.

UMA EXPRESSÃO tradicional dos fastos de elegância e de aristocracia da terra pernambucana: o Clube Internacional do Recife e as suas suntuosos instalações. Ilustração Brasileira, Rio de Janeiro, p. 161, ago. 1942.

MATOS, Potiguar. Clube Internacional do Recife: um século de história. Recife: Cepe, 1985.

O RECIFE e sua vida social. Almanaque do Recife Lítero-Charadístico, Recife, 1966. p. 129-130.

how to quote this text

Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Clube Internacional do Recife– Recife International Club. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <>. Accessed: day month year. Ex. 6 ago. 2009.