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Nightlife and boliches in Buenos Aires

This week Expanish blog tackles the very highbrow topic of  nightlife and boliches in Buenos Aires. What is a boliche you ask?  Boliche refers to any club in Argentina where you will find dancing.  If you are currently in a high school Spanish class, you might also call this a discoteca.  Boliche is a very important vocabulary word to know when travelling to Argentina, as it is a huge part of the youth and adult culture here.  Below are a few observations about boliches in Buenos Aires to help you prepare for your nights out.

Time

As someone who habitually spends their nights with cheap 8 peso wine and Arrested Development marathons on Cuevana, my boliche experience runs deep. Oh, did I just reveal to you the extent of my loserness? Let’s move on.

One of the first things you will notice about Buenos Aires is that the porteños like to party. In fact, they stay out so late, their hours are more in line with Vampire Bill’s than with the average human being. Lack of sleep also doesn’t seem to deter them much either. Oh, I just got back from the boliche at 5:30 am on a Wednesday night and I have to come into work at 8 am? No problem, I’ll just take that cafeaspirina that the 14 pharmacies in a two-block radius of my house have in stock. (Note: In case you were wondering, cafeaspirina is exactly what you think it is: caffeine + aspirin). As someone who is already past their partying prime at the ripe old age of 23, I definitely struggle to keep up.

When I was first in South America, one of my friends asked me, “When do parties end in the U.S.?” After thinking about it for a while, I said, “Well, if it’s a really good party – and I’m talking a REALLY good one – like 2:30, maybe 3 AM.” My friend was horrified. She responded, “Three AM? That’s like when our parties begin here!” Indeed, what my friend said was not an exaggeration. Any club you show up to before 2, 2:30 am, I can almost guaranteed you it will be empty (trust me, I ‘ve made that rookie mistake). Porteños start and end the night much later, so make sure to get your powernap in between 10 and 12, otherwise you definitely won’t be able to make it through the night.

Drinking Culture

Argentines also have a different drinking culture than countries such as the U.S., as Argentines tend to drink more often in moderation, spreading out their drinks more gradually over the night. So what do Argentines like to drink? A short list:

  • Quilmes: Quilmes is the national beer here, and you will see it more often than not sold by the liter instead of by the bottle, as Argentines like to go out with friends and compartir una cerveza (share a beer). In fact, the standard practice when drinking a beer with friends is to serve everyone else first before you serve yourself.
  • Fernet: Fernet is the national liquor here, and while it tastes more to me like a mixture of eucalyptus, mint, and bleach, Argentines can’t seem to get enough of it. The preferred brand is Fernet Branca, and the most popular combination is Fernet and Coca-Coca.
  • Speed + Vodka: When I first saw this on a menu in a boliche, I literally thought they were referring to the drug speed, and was shocked at how open they were about this. It turns out that Speed does not refer to the drug, but rather a brand of energy drink. Argentines love this combination because not only is it a tasty alcoholic drink, it helps keep them up until last call at 7 am.
  • Red Wine + Carbonated Water: While this drink is more popular within the older crowd as compared to the boliche crowd, it’s important to note, as it is not uncommon to see in a restaurant an Argentine adding carbonated water to their vino tinto.

Tips for a Safe Night Out

While Buenos Aires is overall a very safe city, like any cities, it’s popular to take certain precautions to ensure a fun and drama-free night out.

  • Be aware of your alcohol limits: Be aware of  your alcohol, and stay within those limits. While it might be fun to unwind from a stressful week at school/work/etc, not being fully aware of your surroundings makes it more likely for someone to take advantage of you (i.e. handing you a fake bill for change, etc). So go out and have fun, but be responsible about it.
  • Travel in groups: Do not walk home alone at night, especially on streets that are not well-lit. Not only is it more fun to go to and from the clubs with your friends, but also traveling in groups means strength in numbers!
  • Keep your drink on you at all times, and do not accept drinks from strangers: This will highly reduce the chance that your drink is adulterated with any unwelcoming substance.
  • If taking a taxi home, choose a Radio Taxi: Radio taxis means that the drivers who work for them are identified drivers, and pertain to a specific company, which also means that they adhere to a certain set of standards. If you are a current Expanish student, check your Expanish Welcome Pack for our list of recommended Radio Taxis!
  • Meet possible love interests in public places: As much as you feel an instant connection with that hot porteño/a that you were dancing with, meet in a public place on the first date. (Added bonus: This will provide you a quick escape if the date ends up being a capital L LOSER!)

Boliche Wear (Clothing)

When going out to bars and clubs, make sure to dress for success.  Argentines tend to wear some of their nicest clothes when they go out, even if it is just to the corner grocery store to get milk.  This is true for both men and women.  Tip for men?  Wear pants!  Some places will not let you enter if you have shorts on and this is true for winter and for summer.  Tip for women?  Dress a little on the conservative side (aka avoid short shorts and mini-skirts).  That does not mean women here do not dress sexy, but rather they show less skin.

And we’ll leave you with this very famous Argentine song about boliches