This Thursday I can officially call myself a researcher. I didn't have to spend three days slaving in an archive to earn this title. Instead, I earned it in the university of Da Club. This Thursday, actually by invitation of a few amigos, I found myself at LOST, the biggest mainstream hip-hop club in Buenos Aires. Every Thursday night Club Arroaz in the illustrious barrio de Palermo, opens the doors to those who want to get LOST in a bit of hip-hop. It's an impressive crowd. Even if you aren’t a huge hip-hop fan, the club will always bring the lolz because of the rich social intersections of such disparate people, especially if you’re looking as an anthropologist.
First and foremost from around 12am to 2:30am all the bboys and bbgirls come out to play. The club turns into a battle arena of sorts; 90’s jamz spinning on the 1s and 2s sets the mood while hundreds of youth create a break circle or watch from the upstairs balconies. Bright colors flashing, and huge screens overhead remind you that you’re in LOST: THE hip-hop culture club.
The second group of people that you’ll always run into, (or more likely, they’ll run into you and shout a drunken “sorry…I mean LO SIENTO”) is every American study abroad student that has ever lived in Buenos Aires. Ever. It is like “intercambio mecca” after the American visitors realize that its too hard to sloppily booty-bump to the techno, cumbia, and 80’s rock that plays at more mainstream posh clubs.
The next charming group are what la gente in Buenos Aires refer to as “los chamuyeros” or bull shitters. This cohort is made up of Argentine 20 somethings on a strictly predatory mission. They are usually armed with a mullet or other embarrassing Argentine haircut, a polo, and incredible artillery of pick up lines (often times in broken English). They reek of cheap beer and feel that they must touch you and speak no more than one inch from your face to transmit their important message. They may or may not be flanked by their female counter parts who are just looking for some attention despite their lack of rhythm.
And lastly, what's most important-ly, in my biased opinion is the gathering of black, and brown people that congregate every Thursday. Africans, Afro-Argentines, Afro-descendants of all sorts come to revel in the Afro rhythms….la musica negra. Some nights make me more proud than others.
As I’ve previously mentioned, Argentina has the absolute most Euro-centric appearance, discourse, and public memory in America Latina. It is popular for gente to pronounce, no hay negros en Buenos Aires, we have no black people, while completely overlooking those that exist, and the population that grows more and more everyday.
This specific night I was flanked by two Fulbrighters, a few Argentines, a Chinita (little Chinese girl) as they call my Japanese friend, and an Afro-Columbian activist I recently met. Arriving at around 2:00, we got to see the last part of the bboys action, as well as a bgirl dance troupe do a planned number: music, lighting and all.
There were a few really talented bboys who had a real smooth and impressive style…one spinning on his head like a cork screw for a minute at least…faster and slower, then continuing his top rock afterwards. Damn! But as a whole, the bboys were a bit jerky in their style, violently Argentine in their moments.
Afterwards when a mainstream pop beat came on, the djs switched and the circle closed up to do their thing. The b-boy audience dissolved into a mobbing crowd, some swaying nervously to the rhythm, some continuing their pop lock sessions, some latching on to the waist of the cute, giggling American at their side, and some running to the bar to get wasted enough to feel alive.
My head hurt so I wasn’t getting down like my usual self, but it wasn’t until I heard “Grillz” that I realized, the music just wasn’t doin it for me that night.
As I was about to leave, Luna came back and to tell me that he just saw Fidel Nadal, a huge reggae artist in America Latina, who happens to be my friend Fede’s cousin, and another Afro-Argentino that interviewed years ago. I went to say whats up to Fidel, who I hadn’t seen for a few years, and his friend told me that they were all hip-hop artists and they would be doing a show the following evening.
And so I ended the night with more work on the agenda. A concert the next day--que vida de orrrrrrrtoooo que tengo. :)