Argentines, of whatever age, are extremely sociable and love to party. This means that even small towns have a selection of bars catering for varied tastes, plenty of live music and somewhere to dance, even if they are not the chic clubs you might be used to in Western urban cities. The point of going out here is to meet and chat rather than drink yourself under the table, and alcohol is consumed in moderation. Argentines are amazed at the quantities of alcohol that some tourists put away. If invited to an Argentine house party, a cake or masitas (a box of little pastries) will be just as much appreciated as a bottle of wine.


Argentines eat dinner at 2200, and then go for a drink at around 2400, so the dancing usually starts at around 0200, and goes on till 0600 or 0700. Boliches can mean anything from a bar with dancing, found in most country towns, to a disco on the outskirts, a taxi ride away from the centre. In Buenos Aires, there's a good range of clubs, playing the whole range from tango, salsa, and other Latin American dance music, to electronica. Elsewhere in Argentina nightclubs play a more conventional mixture of North American and Latin American pop with a bit of Argentine rock nacional thrown in, though you'll find a more varied scene in bigger cities like Córdoba, Rosario and Mendoza. Tango classes are popular all over the country, and especially in Buenos Aires, where milongas are incredibly trendy: a class followed by a few hours of dancing. Even if you're a complete novice, it's worth trying at least one class to get a feel for the steps; being whisked around the floor by an experienced dancer is quite a thrill even if you haven't a clue what to do with your legs.


Live music is everywhere in Argentina, with bands playing Latin American pop or jazz in bars even in small cities. The indigenous music is folclore, which varies widely throughout the country. Traditional gaucho music around the pampas includes payadores: witty duels with guitars for two singers, much loved byArgentines, but bewildering if your Spanish is limited to menus and directions. The northwest has the country's most stirring folclore, where you should seek out peñas to see live bands playing fabulous zambas and chacareras. The rhythms are infectious, the singing passionate, and Argentine audiences can't resist joining in. Even tourist-oriented peñas can be atmospheric, but try to find out where the locals go, like La Casona del Molino in Salta. Most cities have peñas, and you'll often see some great bands at the gaucho Day of Tradition festivals (mid-November) throughout Argentina and at local town fiestas.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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