An amazing story in itself is how Melina and I met.
We had crossed paths while staying in the same hostel room in London, England last March. At this point, I was two months into my study abroad term and seven months out of Argentina, the place where I left my heart. So you can imagine my internal giddiness when I heard two of the girls in my room speaking at the speed of light in a Spanish that isn’t quite, well, Spanish. I leaned in closer to confirm my growing suspicions, despite the difficulty for an Argentinian to travel so far (their economy and their government at the time made it nearly impossible to travel outside the country) when one two-syllable word sealed our fate:
I snap around instantly, while they were in mid-conversation, and demanded: Where are you from?
They turned to me with wide eyes, and Melina responded,
I couldn’t contain my excitement, and Melina will tell you that I lit fireworks and burst into song, hands pointed to the heavens, mournfully belting out Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina!
I did, however, nervously tell them about my history with their home country including a friendly Argentine dog named Brisa Marina, which I said it in a way that secured our friendship and had them call me BRISA in the tone you would a dog, for the rest of our time in London.
That’s okay. They could make fun of me all they wanted, because they were the one connection that I had to Argentina, and they were really nice girls.
Fast forward a year later, I’m back in Argentina, and Melina and I made plans to have a girls’ night out. I was in Buenos Aires already for over a month, and I still hadn’t experienced that notorious Argentinian night out (i.e. leave at 2am, get home the next morning). I had a feeling I could only do this once, considering that I liked my sleep too much and I came from a place where bars close at 2am, but for my own empirical research on Argentine nightlife, it was on!
When the sacred Saturday came, I took a long siesta before meeting Melina at her apartment on the other side of town. We had a sugary dinner in Moo Lecheria, a 50’s style American diner with an Argentine twist, of milkshakes and giant waffles drenched in golden dulce de leche. We later walked our food off, and then suddenly I found myself hugging a llama. Yes, a fluffy white llama that has never seen a dentist. Honestly, I only drank water up until this point, so it wasn’t me, just the strange magic of Buenos Aires at night.
1 Gringa, 6 Portenas go out
Phase 1: Pre-drink
I had brought a 26er of vodka to the party because there was no such thing as mickeys, and I figured I could share it and get brownie points with the five other girls invited, who only knew me as the Canadian girl. Whereas BYOB is a major concept in Canada, and people who don’t bring anything yet expect drinks are called mooches, it was a normal custom here for everyone to trade, try, and chug other people’s alcohol. The major reason for this I think is the price: the most expensive 26er of vodka at the kiosco (corner store) was $4.50 CAD. That’s a joke. In Canada, people used to cradle or hide their Smirnoff bottles at high-school house parties to avoid giving up their bottle of 3-hour minimum wage pay. I do have to say we’ve settled down now that we’re adults who drink less, and sharing is much more common among friends. But I can’t say I’ve ever felt rich enough yet to provide 30$ bottles of alcohol to random party-goers who suddenly decide they want to drink. Unless you’re my friend and I love you, fuggedaboutit.
At 10PM, I was the only one sipping an alcoholic beverage. By this time in Canada, people would be starting to feel nice and fuzzy from their second cup of wine.
In the midst of introductions, I found out that one of the girls was only 17 years old (huh, she looked older than me). The club we were going to go apparently didn’t ID. That’s comforting, since although I am 24 I still manage to get double-ID’ed (one day I’ll be happy about this, I’m told).
The girls ordered empanadas for dinner and continued to banter in lighting-speed Castellano. I contributed when I could decipher what they were discussing, but for the most part, I sat back and enjoyed their animated off-the-wall conversations. There was no way I could eat anything since my recent meal was dulce de leche covered waffles and a strawberry milkshake, so I just continued to slowly sip my screwdriver.
After the empanadas were devoured, the girls began to finally pour themselves drinks. The bottle went around, and I began to quicken my pace by habit. By 12:00 AM, I would have been gone already to the clubs, but here, the ladies were just getting the party started.
First, some changed outfits, and others were putting on makeup, drinking between mascara strokes. I’d always make sure to get ready before I start drinking to avoid any explicit wardrobe malfunctions or accidentally filling in my eyebrows so thick I’d draw a unibrow and say, ‘eh, no one will notice it in the dark’.
After an entertaining two hours of random dancing and girl talk, I suggested we play a drinking game. I mean, in Canada we are all about them drinking games at the pre, eh? With limited space and a slight language barrier, I picked one of the easiest games to explain: King’s Cup.
…We lasted about 15 minutes. I realized drinking games weren’t really common for girl’s nights out here, and the preferred method of pre-drinking is listening to music, occasionally bursting out into dance, eating, getting ready, and just talking. At least I tried!
The club we were going to was literally in a forest, hence the name “El Bosque” which is Spanish for The Woods. Since it was in the middle of nowhere, we called a Remis (basically cheaper taxis without seatbelts) to pick us up and drive us home. We had to negotiate a pick-up time both ways to ensure we’d get home at the end of the night with the same driver. We settled on 1:30AM to leave, and 6:30AM for pick-up. Por Dios…
Phase 2: The Boliche, “El Bosque”
The biggest club I’ve ever been in my life felt small from the limited moving space I had thanks to the overcapacity of teens making their way around. There were maybe 2,000 people there. Can you imagine if there was a fire? Packing us in a nightclub like a subway car during rush-hour is illegal. Also having only two bathrooms in the facility with a wave of people who’ve long broken the seal is just not a good time. Que quilombo. I waited forty minutes in that wrapped-around-the-corner line of pee-dancing girls.
We secured a spot where the crowd was more dispersed, leaving us enough room to dance freely without knocking anyone’s drinks over, or getting grabbed by passing Argentinos (yes, it happened a lot.)
The music echoing throughout the club was cumbia, so I tried my best to dance to seductive serenading Spanish guitars.
A couple of the girls bought two bottles of champagne for us to share, which was really nice. Buying these bottles wasn’t like the extortion of booth bottle service in Canada, but was at an affordable 250 pesos (around 22 bucks). Interestingly, when poured, the champagne was mixed with an energy drink, which is how the girls must be able to stay up so late. With only a fuzzy concern of the health hazards of mixing the two, I drank a couple of glasses.
If it wasn’t full enough, now the club was officially bumpin’ (no really, people were bumping their heads on the walls with nowhere to go). Our space had been overrun by others seeking refuge from the massive dancefloor of sweaty bodies. A couple of friends of the girls came to our table, which was a nice excuse for me to stop dancing awkwardly, and practice my Castellano. One of the guys had already popped my western space-bubble the moment I felt his saliva speckle on my cheek, yelling in my ear over the loud music. Okay, nice, good talk.
After three hours of attempting to dance to cumbia, the funniest thing happened:
the DJ started to play EDM music, something I was more familiar with dancing-wise, and something within me switched on. I was on auto-pilot, eyes closed, and I danced my soul out with Melina, who gratefully joined me in my spur of the moment over-exhaustion move. I clearly found my second wind. We fist pumped and hair flicked, booty bumped and twirled, and I heard the ayyy mami’s of those who passed.
Then a cumbia song started playing and I snapped out of it. I turned around to see a circle that apparently was created around us to enjoy the odd spectacle before them. Whatever, shows over people!
By 6AM, we were done. Absolutely demolished. Energy drink crash. Half the girls were falling asleep on the couches to the contempt of the security guards. The thing was, as much as we were ready to go home, we had to wait until 6:30AM for our ride. We rode the wave of consciousness a little longer and then finally left to get our Remis.
Outside, people were fighting for taxis. When there are 2,000 people in the middle of nowhere, you need to come prepared with a plan to get home. Thankfully, our Remis was waiting for us as promised.
Phase 3: Sleep
After dropping off the girls, Melina and I crashed in her bed for a modest three hours, since we were scheduled for lunch with her family at her grandparent’s house that day. Oops.
Gracias Melina for inviting me to your girls night out, and meeting all your cool friends; it was fantastic and clearly gave me a lot to write about. 😉 Besos!