Buenos Aires – A City of the Night

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Crobar in Buenos AiresTim Kernutt recently discovered that there is a reason that Buenos Aires is renowned as one of the prime partying destinations in the world, much to the shock of his body clock. If you ask any well-traveled young person in the world what their favourite city in the world is to party until dawn, Buenos Aires more often than not rates a mention. And, as I discovered, more impressive than the clubs and bars of Buenos Aires is the staying power of the local Porteños.

I had made haste to Buenos Aires after a few unpleasant experiences in Rio de Janeiro. Having been immediately struck by the European feel and look of the Argentinean capital, I soon met up with some travelling companions and in no time found myself drinking double-strength vodkas in a Porteño’s apartment near downtown Buenos Aires.

I had flown in at dinnertime, and immediately had ambitions to sample a local bife de lomo (steak). However, my friend Paulie had informed me in no uncertain terms that the locals did not contemplate eating until at least 11pm, and to walk into a restaurant before that time is considered a no-no. As my stomach groaned with disappointment, I chose to ignore my eating impulses by downing more drinks. This soon had me calculating what potential time we would decide to head to one of the local clubs to shake off the airplane fatigue.

“We will flag a taxi at around 2:30 in the morning so that we start queuing up outside the club at around 3”, Paulie told me in perfect English. I yawned at the prospect.

“3am? But that’s about six hours away!”

“Of course, Tim”, she replied, acting as if I was an alien. In many ways I was indeed an alien – and to the Buenos Aires party circuit, I was also a virgin.

Luckily, time passed quickly with the quick-witted conversation of Paulie and her friends – which left me with the indelible impression that the Argentinean race was remarkably European – and soon we were all drowning the beautiful bife de lomos with a local Argentinean red wine at a local restaurant before returning to Paulie’s third-story apartment replete with balcony.

Unfortunately, back at the apartment I was struggling with the concept of not heading out to go dancing until 3am. Do not get me wrong, I am aware of the concept of being fashionably late. However, in my home town, we consider midnight a good start-up time, and not 3am. 3am is the time that one usually flags a taxi on the way home from the nightclub. If you entered a nightclub at 3am, you would be hanging out with a couple of cleaners, a drunk bartender and one or two committed partiers still stumbling around the dance floor. I was fast learning that this is not how the city of Buenos Aires operates.

As I sat perched above the coffee table, my eyelids felt as heavy as lead. Tears of tiredness welled up in my eyes, and yawning noises were emanating from my mouth akin to a hippopotamus’ mating call. I excused myself from the group and went to splash cold water on my face in the bathroom. I awoke an hour later sprawled out on the floor of the bathroom with my head resting on the corner of the room. It was a most uncomfortable position, and not wholly recommended for sleep.

I splashed some cold water on my face, did some star jumps on the spot to wake me up and tried to gather myself. C’mon! This is my first night in Buenos Aires, I have to go out. It would be like staying home on New Year’s Eve. I just had to train my body clock into believing that 3am was a reasonable hour to go out.

Clubbing in Buenos AiresFinally, I found myself walking into what was supposedly one of Buenos Aires’ more exclusive nightspots. As I walked into the main room, I was struck by how attractive the Argentinean race really was, and how much time everyone obviously spends on preening themselves for a night out (males included). The DJ was spinning great house beats, the dance-floor was moving rhythmically, the drinks were flowing, pairs were matching up and the disco ball above the main dance-floor was spinning.

By the end of the night I had come to the realisation that the dance-floor was full of the most attractive and unpretentious crowd I had ever witnessed: more stunning than the locals of Florianopolis, more beautiful than the Swedish in Stockholm and more bronze and fit than the crowds of Sydney or Los Angeles. The tiredness I had experienced at my friend’s apartment soon dissipated in a frenzy of generously poured vodkas, dancing, and chatting to the locals.

Mint in Buenos Aires, a nightclub.And my sentiment was not contained to this nightclub alone. It held true for all of the exclusive nightclubs of the city, including Rumi, Jet, Mint, Pacha and Crobar. The nightclubs of Buenos Aires seriously leave New York lagging in terms of their setups. And Buenos Aires had overtaken New York in defining the expression “the city that never sleeps.”

As I exited the nightclub at 6am, I asked Paulie what was too late an hour to head out to a nightclub.

“Sometimes my friends and I head out at 4.30, and then head to a recovery party afterwards. We are obsessed with night in this city. Dinner is usually not before midnight. If you head out for some drinks at a bar with friends, 2 in the morning is normal. The other night, I had a coffee with my grandma at 1 in the morning”.

By the end of the night I felt like I had run a marathon in every sense of the word. And as my head hit the pillow at 7am as my home town was awaking to go to work, I was salivating at the thought of the next night out.

Thanks to Joseph F. and volvidejapon for the CC pictures!

10 Comments

[…] Attend Opera Bay’s “Office Hour” on a Wednesday night. Buenos Aires has often been referred to as a Circadian Rhythm nightmare for foreigners who are accustomed to bars closing around 2 am. Most bars and clubs really don’t get going until the wee hours of the morning here, and you may find yourself frustrated by your body’s inability to sleep when you will it to after three weekend nights out until 7 am. Enter Office Hour, the Porteño counterpart to “Happy Hour” in the States. You get to enjoy the bar/club scene for a full five hours, including free cover (before 8:30 pm), AND manage eight hours of sleep, while still waking up early enough the following day to make the most of the sunlight. If that’s not enough of an argument to partake in Opera Bay’s Wednesday night festivities, consider the extremely good-looking clientele looking to work off some stress from the office with a cold Iguana on the dance floor. […]

[…] The Argentinian passions are revealed in this illuminating story about the club scene in Buenos Aries written by Tim Kernutt, Argentinian Travel Guide. […]

Coqui on October 8, 07

Sounds like a blast. If only it was closer…

Nice post

[…] I had a few friends in Buenos Aires, and within two days of landing, I decided that Palermo Viejo or Recoleta would be great areas to rent for a month. The plan was to learn some Spanish and to get to know the Buenos Aires’ nightlife intimately. The most logical place to begin a search for accommodations (short-term or long-term) is, naturally, a real-estate agent. And lo and behold, there are several scattered about the streets of Palermo Viejo with appealing photos of apartments on their windows. I am adept at dealing with real estate agents in my home country (I believe that the attitude ‘never falter’ springs to mind). However, I was just about to learn a few lessons in the art of negotiating an apartment, Latin-American style. […]

[…] The vibe of Buenos Aires is all about heading out to clubs at the fashionably late time of 3am. And the fashion sense of the local Porteños is truly European, and in many respects more cutting-edge. Designs of clubs, bars and restaurants put London and New York to shame. Architecture in Puerto Madero, in particular, is as revolutionary as other dockland redevelopments in some of world’s major cities. And – here is the clincher – many young Porteños have lifestyles unimaginable to most Westerners. There is, of course, an enormous tide of poverty within Argentina, though it is so far removed from the lifestyles of these young Porteños that it’s hard to fathom that they coexist. […]

[…] Buenos Aires is a city brimming with confidence. I never had the pleasure of experiencing the ‘Paris of South America’ before the economic crash, but even as a city now in the midst of recovery, there is still a pervading air of confidence in the local population. The beautiful locals strut about like there is not a care in the world and despite economic hardship, the younger generation still parties like there is no tomorrow. So, as a foreign visitor to Buenos Aires, I often ask myself, “where does this confidence come from??” […]

[…] arriving (especially when closer to 2am), expect the entrance line to wrap around the building and be prepared to pay 10 pesos for the gals […]

[…] inverted, I flowed from fall to spring in October 2007, and I’m still indulging in the Porteño night life that extends beyond sunrise. As well as satisfying my addiction for new […]

Pedro on August 2, 08

What was your bad experience in Rio De Janeiro??

Pillow Fight BA on November 25, 08

[…] Tres de Febrero in front of the planetarium in Palermo.  An estimated 3,000 people turned out, pillows in tow, for the day’s festivity.  The event was organized by Marina Pozni, who set up a […]

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