Buenos Aires Boliches: Nightlife in BA

Gringo in Buenos AiresClubs29 Comments

They say that New York is the city that never sleeps, but Buenos Aires is one of the world’s frontrunners when it comes to 24-hour partying. Many of the best things about this fascinating city happen after dark, and you’ll notice that nightlife and nighttime activities play a key role in the lives of porteños. A few things to know: It’s normal to go for dinner at 1 a.m., after taking in a theater show on Avenida Corrientes; it’s normal to go for ice cream with your grandmother at midnight on a Tuesday; and it’s normal to wait until 11 p.m. before going to a bar. You get the idea: B.A. is a city for night owls.

So what about the boliches (nightclubs)? First of all, don’t even think about arriving at your chosen venue before 2 a.m.; this is when most clubs are opening their doors. Any time prior to this is reserved for hitting a bar or la previa, which is pre-game drinking at your or a friend’s house. Once open, the boliches amuse and entertain their clientele well into the early hours, often as late (or early) as 7 a.m. You’ll find all styles of nightclub too, from electronic and dance clubs to rock clubs and celebrity hangouts. As a general rule, although exceptions do exist, clubs in Buenos Aires throw all pretension out the window and focus on good old-fashioned fun. Porteños aren’t huge boozers, either, so you’ll rarely see the stumbling, mumbling drunks often seen in Northern European and American clubs. This, among other theories, explains their ability to keep the party going until the early morning.

Whether you do it once or every weekend, partaking in a night of dancing until sunrise is a must-do in Buenos Aires. To help you on your way we’ve handpicked a selection of the city’s best nightclub experiences. (Note that our choices aren’t just confined to the weekends.) Be brave and attempt the ultimate challenge: Hit a club on a Tuesday night and make it to your 9 a.m. walking tour on Wednesday morning.

Great Boliches in Buenos Aires

House/electronic music is huge in Buenos Aires and big-name international DJs are constantly landing on Argentine shores to entertain adoring fans with hours-long sets. One of the most popular nightclubs on the scene is Pacha (pachabuenosaires.com, corner of Rafael Obligado and La Pampa, Costanera Norte), which faces the river on the Costanera Norte. It’s from the same brand as the world-famous clubs in Ibiza, London and New York. There’s a huge dance floor, several bars and the latest in sound and lighting technology, while the open-air terrace is the place to be to watch the sunrise. Pacha opens on Friday, Saturday and public holidays and welcomes DJs such as John Digweed, Nick Warren and Fatboy Slim. Another favorite for well-known DJs is Alsina (palacioalsina.net, Alsina 940, Monserrat), just a short walk from Plaza de Mayo. It’s the host of two big electronic events – State on Friday and Big One on Saturday – and can hold up to 3,000 guests. There’s also a Sunday daytime party that starts at 3 p.m., which gives you enough time to nip home for a siesta before finishing the weekend in style. For more famous names in the DJing world, head to Crobar (crobar.com.ar, Libertador 3886, Palermo Parks), set beneath a railway bridge on the edge of El Rosedal in Palermo. Friday’s Be Techno event hosts local and international DJs, while Saturday is popular with the LGBT crowd. At Crobar you’re invited to arrive early for dinner, then stay on to mingle with the latecomers.

In the city center there are two clubs that take care of your house/electronic/funk musical desires. One is Bahrein (bahreinba.com, Lavalle 345, San Nicolás), a three-story nightclub that opens on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Chill out in the cocktail lounge; boogie to soul, funk, ’80s and ’90s pop in the Funky Room; or hit the no-holds-barred basement dance floor. If you take your partying seriously, make sure to spend a night at Cocoliche (facebook.com/Cocoliche, Rivadavia 878, Monserrat). Although it’s well known, it still manages to maintain an underground vibe. Go straight to the gritty basement, which impresses with its sound system and DJs, who spin techno, minimal house, drum ‘n’ bass and more. Cocoliche opens on weekends only.

For a bit of everything – DJs, live music, drag shows – head over to Palermo Hollywood’s Niceto Club (nicetoclub.com, Niceto Vega 5510, Palermo Hollywood). It’s a stalwart on the BA nightlife scene and consistently puts on excellent nights. The most famous is Thursday’s Club 69, an eclectic evening of baroque cabaret, transvestite strippers, break-dancers and booming techno music. It may sound bizarre but it’s definitely worth experiencing. Friday and Saturday nights are reserved for indie rock and electro and are popular nights with the city’s hipsters. Nightclub events kick off after midnight, before which the venue hosts live music performances by local and international artists. If you like nightclubs with live music, La Capilla (facebook.com/lacapilla.delrock, Suipacha 842, Retiro) in Retiro should be on your to-visit list. The big night is Friday’s Fiesta de la Flor. You’ll hear live music that covers everything from cumbia and Balkan to ska, hip-hop and dancehall. Bands start around 10 p.m. and resident DJs will take you into the early hours of Saturday.

If an all-round good time is your priority, make your way to Podestá (podestafotos.com, Armenia 1740, Palermo Soho), smack in the heart of Palermo Soho. It opens as a bar at 10 p.m. – happy hour runs from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. – and turns into a club with a good mix of locals, expats and students. Downstairs, the DJs spin rock and pop classics while upstairs is more of a dance/electro scene. The club opens from Thursday to Saturday. On trend in Palermo Hollywood is the Scandinavian-owned Unicorn Huset (unicornhuset.com, Honduras 5730, Palermo Hollywood). It’s open from Wednesday to Saturday, which makes it good for midweek partying as well as weekend fun. In true Scandinavian style, the vibe here is about drinking and letting your hair down, which leads to an ultimately young, fashionable and good-looking crowd. Unicorn opens at 9 p.m., and on a warm night it’s worth arriving early to grab a table in the garden. Should you have an urge for a midweek party, stop by Boutique (facebook.com/after.boutique, Perú 535, Monserrat). Previously called Museum, this Monserrat club is the king of after-work drinks. Every Wednesday from 7 p.m., suited workers go for what starts out as a quiet pint but turns into a booze-fueled meat market. DJs spin ’80s and ’90s pop to keep the atmosphere a happy one.

A city’s nightlife wouldn’t be the same if it didn’t have the see-and-be-seen venues that fill up with A- and B-list celebrities, plus a healthy amount of wannabes. Two such places – Jet (jet.com.ar, Rafael Obligado 4801, Costanera Norte) and Tequila (corner of Rafael Obligado and La Pampa, Costanera Norte) – can be found on the Costanera Norte. Jet is a small club that has made a name for itself by hosting exclusive fashion parties and music events. Open from Thursday to Saturday, it takes the form of a swanky lounge club where the clientele are expected to dress to impress in order to mingle with the cool and beautiful crowd. Tequila is about 500 meters down the road and is revered for bringing in the city’s most attractive women. Getting in is often all about who you know and not how many pesos you have in your pocket. That or you’ll need to be overwhelmingly good-looking or have the ability to charm the skin off a snake. Like Jet, Tequila is open from Thursday to Saturday.

Alternative clubbing options include Asia de Cuba (asiadecuba.com.ar, Olga Cossettini 751, Puerto Madero) in Puerto Madero. A restaurant by day, it becomes a chic, upmarket lounge club after midnight, attracting well-heeled tourists and Puerto Madero’s wealthy residents. Don’t bother with the restaurant; instead show up after 1 a.m., when the dance floor begins to fill up. Stroll along Avenida Juan B. Justo after midnight on a Friday or Saturday and you’ll spot clubbers milling around the doors of numerous nightclubs. In this vicinity is Rosebar (rosebar.com.ar, Honduras 5445, Palermo Soho), a warehouse-style nightclub with a huge dance floor, innumerable disco balls and groups of 20- and 30-something revelers. On Thursday, Rosebar hosts a busy after-office party from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, it’s a standard porteño nightclub party, but be prepared to confront the fashion police at the door.

One final club worth mentioning is Buenos Aires’ most-famous LGBT nightclub, Amerika (ameri-k.com.ar, Gascón 1040, Almagro). Although billed as a gay club, everyone is welcome and the varied clientele aid in creating a flamboyant and boisterous party. The club spreads over three floors and has a capacity of almost 2,000, which is made up of gay fellas, Lady Gaga wannabes, straight girls and hipsters. Amerika opens at midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and also puts on a popular Sunday party. On Friday and Saturday the admission fee includes an open bar.

Seven Days of Boliches

Monday @ Club Severino: Start your week off in style at this ever-popular event, which takes place at Bahrein. There’s a different theme each week, but in general the music mixes rock and pop, hip-hop and electro, cumbia and reggaeton. Enjoy free admission before 1 a.m. when you sign up for the guest list.

Tuesday @ Kika Club: For a few years now Kika’s Hype party has been the dominant event of Buenos Aires’ Tuesday nightclub scene. Positives are that the music – often played by international DJs – ranges from electro and drum ‘n’ bass to dubstep and deep house. Negatives are that it’s overcrowded; it’s full of tourists, expats and young students; and drinks are expensive. Until something else comes along, this is the place to be on Tuesday. Check it out but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Wednesday @ Asia de Cuba: Join the in-crowd at Puerto Madero for one of Asia de Cuba’s biggest nights of the week, the Link Up Party Coolest Connection. It attracts a crowd of regulars who show up around 1 a.m. The club isn’t cheap, so remember to bring plenty of pesos. Ladies enjoy free admission until 3 a.m.

Thursday @ Niceto Club: A fun night is guaranteed at the extravagant Club 69 event. Dance the night away to electro beats while sharing the dance floor with drag queens, transvestites, Village People lookalikes and B-boys. Due to its popularity, Club 69 draws many tourists. Still, you should check it out at least once. The affair kicks off at midnight and there’s an AR$100 cover charge. Girls go free from midnight to 2 a.m. when signing up for the guest list.

Friday @ Crobar: The BeTechno night at Crobar epitomizes the nightclubbing scene of Buenos Aires; great house music, international DJs, party-loving porteños and zero snobbishness. Previous performers include Marc Houle, Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock, for those in the know. The cover charge is around AR$100 and doors open at 10 p.m.

Saturday @ Jet: Dig out your funkiest pair of pants and iron your favorite shirt: Saturday night is a time to mingle with the beautiful people at Jet. The door policy is notoriously strict, so plan your night carefully. Make prior inquiries about getting on the guest list or, if you have money to splash, consider reserving a VIP booth. If all else fails, stroll 500 meters down the road to Pacha.

Sunday @ Amerika: Continue your weekend’s exploits or dance away the Monday blues at this legendary anything-goes Sunday event. It’s predominately gay but is also a safe haven for all open-minded clubbers. Hard-hitting techno gets partiers on the main dance floor, with the last DJs starting their sets at 4:30 a.m. On the laid-back second floor, DJs spin Latin, pop and retro tunes. The cover charge is AR$100, and from midnight to 2 a.m. there’s a two-for-one drink special.

To avoid waiting in long lines and trying to convince ruthless doormen that you are cool enough to get into a club, do some preparation. The vast majority of clubs offer the chance to register on their guest list, which guarantees entrance up to a specified time. Simply go to their respective websites and send an email. Naturally, there’s no limit to how many guest lists you can be on. If you aren’t 100-percent sure of your final destination, register on as many lists as you possibly can.

At big-name DJ clubs, such as Alsina, Crobar and Pacha, you have the option of purchasing tickets in advance. This can be done in several ways: by contacting the club directly; via ticketing websites such as Ticketek; or at backpacker hostels.