António Cassiano – an uncle of the current owner – came from Luanda and opened Bota Alta for business in 1976. He was inspired by a fado song that Frederico de Freitas had written and was made popular by the first Portuguese sound film (A Severa, directed by Leitão de Barros in 1930) and later by the famous fado singer Amália Rodrigues. The lyrics: “Blue jacket and high boots/Joking with everyone/He’s the king of the carriage drivers/He’s Timpanas”. It is obvious that the restaurant never gave up the name and the short blue jacket was reflected in the colours of the walls, which were also adorned with paintings, drawings and a profusion of boots.
The decoration is the result of a number of gifts from customers. It is a portrait of a generation of artists who made the Bairro Alto neighbourhood – and Bota Alta itself – their meeting point. Together with Frágil nightclub and Pap’Açorda restaurant, it was one of the places that generated new forms of being oneself and going out at night – a cultural movement, above all for the gay and arts communities. The surrounding streets were the place for anybody to express themselves and just be different.