La Bomba del Tiempo at Ciudad Cultural Konex

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Ciudad Cultural KonexI am still a block away from my destination when the balls of my feet and my belly start to vibrate, but the neighborhood offers no other suggestion as to the nearby hippiefest. Finally, I see a small crowd of dreadlocked, smiling people in brightly woven hats and sweaters, offering delectable whole wheat pan relleno, several smokers, a pretentious student or two, and a man with a small baby strapped across his chest and a gourd in each hand. It is Monday evening in Buenos Aires, and I have arrived at Ciudad Cultural Konex, which hosts a weekly percussion extravaganza called La Bomba de Tiempo.

I give my seven pesos to the man at the boleteria and make my way into a large courtyard. Konex’s status as a former industrial monolith is only enhanced by the artistically oversized staircase in the courtyard and enormous, watchful cockroach sculpture that looks down from the roof. The ironically neon sign helps, too. Young, much-hipper-than-I Argentines mill about, making their way between the bar’s trendy white sofas and the percussive womb on the far side of the courtyard. After finally scoring a beer at the crowded bar, I enter the main event and am instantly thrilled.

Onstage, at least fifteen musicians, primarily drummers, are pounding their hearts out, with both skill and passion. Watching them is a young, attractive, and very energetic group. Some bounce with the rhythm that comes up from the floor and down from the stage. I, however, am still too awed by what I see to quite shake my groove thing. Yet. The circle of musicians is extremely diverse and, I learn later, made up of some of the finest musicians in Buenos Aires. Many of them are teachers of music in the city’s universities and studios, others are in other bands in addition to this one, and all are fantastically fun to hear and watch.

At the front center of the circle stands the “conductor,” although this title confers a coattails formality that is entirely inappropriate. Instead, it is a fellow in baggy corduroys and a crocheted cap with his own drum, who directs using a collection of hand signals and facial expressions. These include smiles, nods, grins, flipping of “the bird,” and the raising and lowering of his arms. He looks like an elegant, disheveled, and very happy stork.

Each week, a guest musician also takes the stage, and this evening it is a bearded saxophonist who later offers some beat poetry. I would perhaps say he should stick to the saxophone, for his improvisation was excellent, while the poetry was, perhaps, faux-profound but still a good opportunity to practice my Spanish. A very short hour and a half later, the performance ends, leaving me exhilarated and ready to move the party to the courtyard, but the security personnel quickly clear everyone out, so there is little opportunity to stand about and chat. Fortunately the snack vendors are outside the gates as usual, giving the hordes of us a chance to firm up our night’s plans while munching on a delicious pancho.

Please note that this is a large, public event and there are occasional petty crimes. Hold your bag tight, or, better yet, don’t bring one at all.

Ciudad Cultural Konex, La Bomba de Tiempo
Mondays, 19:00 (but be fashionably late; it’s not fun ’til 20:00 or 21:00)
Sarmiento 3131, Abasto/Once
Ciudad Cultural Konex website
Photo courtesy of ndrs on Flickr

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