23.11.2007 - 25.11.2007 26 °C
In the evening I took a friend, Mash out dancing to a club named Crobar within one of the huge parks of Palermo. It seemed every second transvestite in the Capital Federal also had flocked to the same area, and in the resultant barfed-up cultural soup of street walkers, taxis, vendors, nightclub patrons, bouncers and pimps, it was hard to tell whose turf it had been to begin with.
With an entry queue out front reminiscent of that at the gates of Gene Wilder's Chocolate Factory, I squeezed past the jumble of waving ticket holders and guest-listers like I was Charlie Bucket and even scored a couple of discount entries to boot! Inside the gorgeously laid-out club and flitting in and out of more VIP areas than you could pout your lips at was a crowd of twenty-something socialites, anorexic models in full frown, resplendent promo girls and trashed types wearing two hundred dollar t-shirts. We sauntered through the crowd as they did, scrutinised everyone the way they were, but of course maintained a composure as marvellously indifferent as the next person.
The clubs in Buenos Aires are seemingly funded in entirety by Camel Cigarettes. Everywhere you turn there are Camel disco balls, indented metal Camel decor, soft blue Camel lighting and even the strobes are tuned to the frequency of Camels, so if you dart your eyes back and forth they appear to walk out of the walls. For a time the DJs at Crobar, hailing from Ibiza, fed us quality techno in generous helpings, but by half past four I'd had my fill of the one-upmanship from the crowd and we left for home.
On the spur of the moment on Saturday, a few friends and I decided to go see a horse race at the Hippodromo in Palermo. It wasn't until we got there that we discovered no horses were actually racing, aside from one trotting in the wrong direction in the infield and a water truck dutifully spraying the track surface. The action appeared instead to be across the road at the Polo ground, so we cantered across the eight lane thoroughfare to take a gander. Not particularly thrilled with the $75 Peso entry fee, we were content with watching the action between the green bars of the spiked perimeter fence. As the grandstands began filling up, the stewards were busy preparing the horses, which seemed to involve a full roll of duct tape and several varieties of common garden sponge. Polo, for those of us not brought up on the well-heeled estancias on which it is so often played, is a sport where two teams of four try to whack a hard ball with a mallet through their opposition's goal, all whilst mounted on horseback. The game is separated into six or more chukkas, each being a seven-minute period of play. The standard of Argentine polo is among the highest in the world, but that didn't prevent us from losing interest in the game before long.
The following day I safaried south toward San Telmo's famous Sunday market. Herds of people congregate there every weekend like an oasis in the city centre's cement and bitumen desert. Tango is naturally the theme here, fronted by the Orquestas Tipicas and dancing demonstrations for donations. A notable puppeteer can always be seen halfway down Calle Defensa, his heavy-drinking alter ego stumbling about in anguish for a lost love as a scratchy tango recording plays from an old suitcase. Further down the street, a character dressed in an ugly grey suit dances romantically with a mobile mannequin while making eyes at the passing pedestrians. Keeping with local tradition, the market starts late and ends late, and the festivities and Tango dancing in Plaza Dorrego continue well into the night.