Buenas noches. But the fun is only starting in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is one of this year's hot destinations. And the clubbing is superb, from gigantic European-style groove fests to traditional tango lessons. Ian McCurrach shakes his booty
Sunday 31 July 2005
Buenos Aires, Latin America's leading dance destination, has been partying since the 19th century and it shows no signs of winding down. The portenos - Buenos Aires locals - have taken the best of European party culture and added their own sensuous flair. And with the current exchange rate, there is the added attraction that a cool cocktail in the best bar in town will cost you less than £2 a pop. Buenas noches does not mean "good night" here: it's merely a signal that things are about to start.
The good-looking, well-heeled crowd - young college kids, middle-aged and elderly - strolls down the wide, tree-lined boulevards, reminiscent of those in Madrid, in search of the dolce vita. Party nights tend to be from Wednesday onwards and anything goes. The biggest and most popular party in Buenos Aires is the annual Creamfields festival. The Argentinian version of the UK's classic event, which attracts headlining acts, is scheduled this year for 12 November. Expect to join a crowd of 40,000-plus.
The latest place for early evening cocktails is El Living, the lounge in the Faena Hotel + Universe, created by the designer Philippe Starck and the entrepreneur Alan Faena. Sit at the library bar amid imperial opulence and contemporary extravagance. Think big red and gold velvet curtains, large leather sofas, crystal chandeliers, lapacho-wood and Paloma sandstone flooring, etched glass, modern rococo-style furnishings with claw feet and 18-carat gold swan chairs and you're halfway there.
A couple of blocks away in Puerto Madero, the trendy regenerated docklands area, Asia de Cuba, Pierina Dealesi 750, is an Eastern-themed bar-cum-lounge-cum-club frequented by a hip crowd, dressed to impress, who dance to everything from trance to tribal. If you work up an appetite you can try the excellent sushi. Wednesday and Saturday nights are best. Also held on Wednesday is the straight-from-work club that runs from 8pm to 2am at Museum, Peru 535, in the colourful San Telmo area.
Dashing around after dark is easy because taxis are cheap and plentiful, and while the journey may be hairy, with cars careering along five-lane boulevards, you can cross the city for around £3. On Thursday cab it to Jet Lounge, Avenida Costanera Rafael Obligado 4801 or Lost, Araoz 2424. While Jet Lounge shoots for a higher class of crowd and the pace is a bit faster and higher, Lost manages to have a lower socio-economic mix and orients itself on the beat of street music and hip-hop. Jet Lounge also has one of the most extensive drinks menus in town.
For Friday night fun follow the "in" crowd to Rumi, Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 6442, on the corner of La Pampa. It's a pretty similar scenario to Asia de Cuba, just louder and longer - the party going on till well after 6am. Most of the Buenos Aires venues are a mix of lounge, bar, restaurant and club and the current top DJs to watch and listen out for are Carlos Alfonsin, Suker, DJ Mina, Rovira, Diego Harispe. All play a good mix of house, progressive and trance. Saturday night is the big night out in Buenos Aires and top of the bill is Mint, Avenida Costanera Rafel Obligado, on the corner of Sarmiento. A mixed crowd raves to local and international DJs such as Tiesto and Oakenfold. When it get too hot on the floor, escape to the cool riverside terrace and chill out on the big day beds. If you just want to drink, two of the coolest hotspots are Casa Cruz, Uriarte 1658, and Soul Café, Baez 245.
For cabaret that combines Parisian bohemian glamour with the decadence of 1930s Berlin nightclubs, check out the newly opened El Rebenque Show, which runs from Thursday to Sunday at El Cabaret at the Faena Hotel. On Tuesdays don't miss Divas del Cabaret, featuring celebrated artists such as Uta Lemper, Nacha Guevara and Sandra Guida. El Cabaret is derivative of the Kit Kat Club in the eponymous movie. Tango and after-hours tango clubs are making a big comeback. Top of the list for "new" tango, which combines traditional steps with street dance, is La Catedral, Sarmiento 4006, but the venue is currently closed for refurbishment. Most good Buenos Aires hotel concierges will know the instant it reopens. While La Catedral is closed, it is hosting evenings at Salon Canning, Scalabrini Ortiz 1331. Expect everything from a variety of milongas (tango clubs) that range from traditional to adventurous.
The best of the elegant, old-fashioned milongas is Niño Bien, Huberto Primo 1462. There you will find 17-year-olds dancing alongside those in their seventies, learning the complicated steps, with everyone dressed up despite the heat, all year round. A night dancing in Buenos Aires is a sultry, unforgettable affair and is guaranteed to linger long in the memory.
Give Me The Facts
How to get there
British Airways (0870-850 9850; www.ba.com) flies from Heathrow to Buenos Aires via São Paulo in Brazil from £697 return.
Where to stay
Faena Hotel + Universe, 445 Martha Salotti (00 54 11 4010 9000; www.faena hotelanduniverse.com), offers doubles from £170.
Embassy of Argentina (020-7318 1300; www.turismo.gov.ar)
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