Nocturnal

Apr 10th 2010: Travel

Well documented in every guidebook, one of the first things you learn about life in Buenos Aires is its night-owl party schedule: The Argentine party goer takes a so called disco nap after work, around 8/9pm, goes out for dinner at 11pm, starts hitting the dance clubs at around 2 or 3am, has breakfast at 7am, and then goes straight back to work. Coming from San Francisco where you get the evil eye at 1:30am and the boot at 2am, where going to sleep at 4am constitutes an all-nighter for all practical purposes, where public transportation, especially into the East Bay, seizes to exist at around midnight, this all-night schedule seems unreal. Surely the guidebooks are exaggerating, trying to sell the place… No?

During my first week friends and I ended up at a Brazilian dance club at 1am and the place was absolutely deserted. It looked pretty sad in fact. As we hung out, bridging the time with various shots, the place started filling up and long and behold at 3am it was jam packed, with the Brazilian locals busting out some crazy, choreographed looking moves. Note to self: do visit Rio or Sao Paolo during Carnival. And this was a weeknight nevertheless, Wednesday I think. After stumbling back at around 6am I had to admit to myself that a) Buenos Aires does indeed have an insane nightlife and b) I had fun.

Without a “proper” job, without a fixed schedule, and with my apartment being conveniently located only two blocks from Plaza Serrano, one of the beating centers of this pulsating Metropolis, filled with bars, clubs, and upscale restaurants, I have since come to truly appreciate the night. The party never stops here. But, surprisingly, it’s all quite casual actually. It’s what you make of it, so in my case I’m hesitant to even call it a “party.” Maybe “Fiesta at night?” There is little to no sensation of “check us out, we are so crazy, partying so hard, so late.” It’s more like you hang out, you get hungry, it’s midnight, no problem, head to a restaurant, then more beers in a bar, and whatdoyouknow, the sun suddenly starts to show its face again, and you figure it’s time to head home. Of course, if partying hard is your thing, it’s not mine, then you can go crazy in the clubs, which tend to feature either Latin pop dance or electronic music. You’ll be supported by the local specialty of Speed and Rum. Speed being the local energy drink.

Even though not really into clubbing – I think I went twice – I nevertheless adjusted to the nightly schedule with bedtime around 5 or 6am. I finally accepted that I will never be that guy, the morning person, the happy and chipper and restless and productive-at-7am one. As much as I wish I was, it’s not in my genes. Or at least not anymore. And so I enjoy working through the night instead. It’s a quiet and relaxing time and it’s calming to know you are never alone regardless of the time. You can always drop by a bar around the corner if you get lonely or bored, looking to exercise that cerveza ordering Spanish. And being used to staying up until sunrise makes it easy to join your friends who tend to ask you at 2am to come over for a beer. Since stores open their doors late, often only at noon, sleeping until 2pm does not further interfere with chores of daily life either. Except on Saturdays. My Saturday mornings do suck. Seriously. My cleaning lady, which I’m glad to have and who is part of the rental package, shows up at 10am, forcing me to spend the next few hours at a cafe with two matches in my eyes and three coffee in my veins. Your day is practically ruined until you take your disco nap. It gets better after that.

Even though I am already starting to look forward to returning to the U.S., to all those things familiar, where trying to find special chemicals is not a struggle and where people at least drive in their lanes at reasonable speeds, specifically not aiming to hit the innocent pedestrian, there are a few things I know I’ll come to miss from Buenos Aires. The night life is one of them. Cafes and bars open late at every corner. Sitting outside at 5am with a litre of cold beer, surrounded by hundreds of other people having theirs, passionately discussing this and that. And cheap, all-night transportation options to get you home regardless which state you are in. All of this in a European-style state of relaxation. But who knows, maybe New York can fill that gap. I wouldn’t mind.

Posted in Travel by Ernst Bruening on April 10th, 2010 at 3:49 pm.

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