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Buenos Aires: Party Like a Rock Star Porteño

by Harmony Hansen
(Harmony is a professional writer working out of Buenos Aires and Boston)

You will not catch the Porteños (Argentines living in Buenos Aires) walking down the streets of Buenos Aires speaking Spanish, they speak Castellano, which is like Spanish with a dash of Italian thrown in to make it extra seductive.   

This country is so hot that they need another language with which to express themselves, and you will find no hotter city in Argentina than Buenos Aires (BsAs to those that call it home)

Nothing that I was told about Buenos Aires could have prepared me, a first time visitor to the city, for the combination of sophistication, culture and outright madness that surges through the people, streets, restaurants and discos (boliches) in Buenos Aires.  There are countless activities to fill your time with during the day and during the night in this Euro-Latin city.  I soon learned that while the day offers countless opportunities to explore and revel in the city’s cultural richness; that the night offers a seductive backdrop for a culture that is devoted to socializing, looking beautiful, and partying like rock stars.

By day I walked through the historic streets of La Boca, one of the oldest and most colorful neighborhoods in the city.  Boca is located right on the river and is famous for its history as an artist enclave.  There are a bevy of artists that live here in pink, blue, and green painted buildings.  They sell their art on the streets amid amazing Argentine restaurants and Tango shows.  In an unusually odd combination of art and sports, Boca offers the absolute best of both worlds, for it also is home to one of Argentina’s most famous soccer teams.  I discovered this stadium when one my Argentine friends, proceeded to drag me on a tour of the soccer stadium that houses The Boca Juniors (Address: Brandsen 805, Buenos Aires). This team is one of the most popular soccer teams amongst Argentina’s maniacal soccer fans.  The experience taught me more about Argentine culture in the three hours that I spent there then any other single experience.  Walking through the museum located there I found myself surrounded by starry-eyed Argentines, and some foreigners, all learning about this fascinating soccer team.  While I took approximately an hour going through the museum my friend took about two hours, absorbing every detail of The Boca Juniors history.  After the museum we took a tour of the actual stadium itself and this was downright magical, you can positively feel the religious like quality that soccer has in Argentina. 

The only barrio that can follow in La Boca’s fiery footsteps is San Telmo, the historical heart of the city.  Where a person can wander around and by accident catch a Tango show, buy an exquisite antique lace handkerchief, and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the cobblestone square of Plaza Dorrego.  I fell in love with San Telmo the moment that I stepped foot in this romantic barrio.  There are amazing antique stores, artists selling their wares on the streets, and amazing restaurants to stop, sit and watch it all take place. While wandering through the cobblestone streets of San Telmo I discovered the amazing Bar Sur (Address: Estados Unidos 299. www.bar-sur.com.ar)  where dancers have been performing for over one hundred years.  I had been strolling through Buenos Aires since ten in the morning and was all too glad to rest my weary feet and take in a show. 

While Buenos Aires bathed in sunlight is an amazing experience, all visitors to this city heed this warning: Save your energy for the night experience For this city’s other culture is invisible until midnight.  This is when the city’s many restaurants, bars, and dance clubs light their candles, turn on their dim lights and open their doors to allow in the beautiful devotees of the madness that is Buenos Aires by night.  

I began many of my perfect nights in barrio Palermo or Recoleta with a plan to eat dinner, at midnight for the socially conscious among you, ten for those who cannot wait that long.  The dress code for the night is “dress to impress,” that is if you want to blend in with the city’s most fashionable citizens that you will find yourself partying, dancing, and dining next to.  Make a reservation to dine at the fashionable and exquisite sushi restaurant Dashi or the contemporary restaurant/trendsetter Mecca Bar Uriarte (Uriarte 1572, Buenos Aires, Argentina Phone: 11/4834-6004) Dining in Buenos Aires restaurants is a social experience unlike many others.  While the food being served here can be exquisite, it is merely a footnote to the experience of sitting in an impeccably decorated space filled with hypnotic music and electric people.  Order drinks and appetizers in addition to your main dish, for no one will be rushing your dinner to the table; this is simply not the Argentine way.  Restaurants here aim to provide a beautiful backdrop to your intimate dining experience.  You are paying not only for food but also for the time you spend at the table conversing and meditating on the vibe surrounding you.  Do not be surprised to see beautiful young women clad in red leather walking around from table to table promoting the hot upcoming party or music festival.  This sort of activity is just one example of the “anything goes” theme that dominates the nightlife scene here.

Upon finishing up dinner, I head to a bar to have a few drinks and slip into the techno zone, for no dance club worth going to really gets started in Buenos Aires until 3:00 AM.  El Unico (Honduras 5604, Palermo, Buenos Aires)  is a good place to head after dinner for great mixed drinks and amazing people watching opportunities, the same can be said for Shamrock (Rodriguez. Peña 1220, Recoleta, Buenos Aires) .  You may be surprised at the suds you see being ordered, for Heineken beer and Iguana beer are big favorites with many Argentines, hey no culture is perfect.  And when it comes to the harder stuff you will find no more popular drink than Fernet Branca and Coca Cola.  This strong and heady drink may go down a big rough at first but its ability to be drunk in large quantities without that nasty little hangover the next morning makes it the perfect drink for the active Argentine or visitor that wants to stay out until 8am and still function the next day.

The main event is upon us: dancing until dawn at one of Buenos Aires amazing discos.  The first time that I step foot in a disco in Buenos Aires I felt as if I had entered a world that I had only seen in the movies or on TV.  Beautiful music pulsing, beautiful people circulating, and a lighting job that makes it all insanely seductive.  It is not difficult to find a disco here with amazing music, people, and atmosphere.  They are more than plentiful.  Pacha (Costanera/Palermo, V. COSTANERA NORTE Y PAMPA) and Mint ( Costanera/Palermo, R. OBLIGADO Y SARMIENTO, Punta Currasco) are located along the river and offer mind-blowing venues for dancing until the sun comes up.  A unique and all too Buenos Aires nightclub experience can be had every Thursday night at Niceto (Niceto Vega 5508 , Palermo) This Palermo hot spot offers visually spectacular X-rated stage performances with an orgy like throng of revelers dancing in the shadow of the stage.  Portenos have a stamina for dancing unlike any other I have seen, they make New Yorkers look like adolescents, and just when you think that everyone will collapse the DJ will put on an amazing new tune that sends a wave of motion through the crowd. 

Many people that I met in Buenos Aires, both foreigners and natives alike, wonder just what it is that makes this city both so seductive and insane.  There are many theories, and one fact: everyone who leaves Buenos Aires seems to come back for just one more fix/visit, and gather more evidence/experience.



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