A Day of Culture

Another cold and rainy morning in Buenos Aires began with my discovery of Ollie’s burn book, featuring me. Because he is the person that he is, his diary was written in another language. So after a few challenging minutes of translating the short entries whilst he was in the bathroom, I discovered that his jottings consisted of complaining about how long I take in the shower. Naturally, it wasn’t just the weather that was cold that day…

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Intellectual and arty

The mal tiempo that morning resulted in us deciding that we needed a day of culture. So we headed to a modern art gallery in San Telmo (sorry, that should be contemporary – modern art is quite different, I’m told). The exhibits were…interesting to say the least and we enjoyed analysing what each blob of art meant, which I actually loved doing. There was an exhibition about ghosts of memory, featuring the eerily distorted sounds of two audio tracks resonating simultaneously at opposite ends of the exhibit. We played around with the perceived symmetry of some of the other pieces, which we discovered were actually asymmetrical and we just weren’t looking properly.

After amusing ourselves in the gallery, we hopped on a bus to explore Recoleta, an affluent area in Buenos Aires with well-to-do residents. We discovered its wealth as we entered an Italian restaurant, which turned out to be more upmarket than we expected – the place had its own two-floor bookshop. I ordered a glass of red wine with my meal and our eyes widened as I was given a bottle instead; it was going to be an interesting day.

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Bookshop in a restaurant – because why not?

The rain was still pouring when we left the restaurant but since we were significantly drunker, we didn’t mind as much. We were laughing as we got soaked, dancing what we thought was ‘tango’ in the streets. Turns out my body can’t handle half a bottle of wine as well as it used to. Unfortunately, it soon became much colder as the sun set and we walked all the way to Palermo, another district in Buenos Aires, for a tango class, which turned out to be much further than we expected. The skies were positively bucketing water down on us by this time and we were sodden, sober and miserable by the time we arrived at the venue, which turned out to be…closed. We looked at each other, shivering as water dripped off the end of our noses, frustrated by our miserable and fruitless hour’s walk.

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-17-19-12However, just as we were about to turn back, our saviour, a heavily bearded man, appeared out of the haze of rain and opened the door for us. La Catedral, the venue and our sanctuary from the weather, was beautiful and designed to look like a vintage tango hall. It was dimly lit, the sofas had burst open with their foamy interiors spilling out, the floorboards groaned under our weight, many of the windows were shattered yet there was gorgeous art everywhere. We had taken a step into the past and were expecting crimson clad tango dancers to glide into view from the shadows.

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Photo credit: Oliver Collard

Nevertheless, in typical Argentine style, we ended up waiting for over two hours for the class to begin or for anyone other than the two of us to show up. Finally, when enough people had arrived, the instructors demonstrated how the tango is performed; it was emotional, passionate, measured and flowing. When Ollie and I tangoed, it was staccato, clunky and heated because we were getting angry at each other for forgetting the moves. Regardless, we enjoyed our lesson and our journey home under the continuous downpour was made slightly less dismal as we stopped in the streets to practice our newfound Latin moves.

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