Senses of Buenos Aires: a few of my favorite things

Senses of Buenos Aires
a few things about the city that I love

by Lynne Sachs

Confiteria Ideal
In my opinion, this is the most wonderful place to see tango. Real people doing the dance of Argentina with a kind of love and commitment that that will make you want to get on the floor yourself. Mystical, misty old world atmosphere.  Be sure to go for the open dances called Milongas, and check for the hours (the afternoon is fine) at their website.

Carlos Ragazonni Sculpture Garden:
Lost, abandoned, junk from the industrial world transformed into dinosaur sized animals. Located right behind the Retiro Train Station off the Avenida Libertador.  Not a formal place to look at respectable obra d’arte but more of a magical discovery nestled in the railway’s backyard – so fragile and probably destined to disappear.  I touch the crackling metal, slip underneath the gaping mouth of a strange animal, watch my daughter pretend she is reeling in a nightmare, a pesadilla, on earth.

Reserva Ecologica
One of the wildest, least manicured natural city spaces I have ever seen. Rustic marshes with cawing birds and wisps of brush fluttering in the marsh winds. I can breath deeper here.

Avenida Corrientes
Wandering Avenida Corrientes for a spectacular array of experiences, including:  the provocative and intellectual Ghandi Bookstore (similar to St. Mark’s Books in NYC); the Leopold Lugari Cultural Center for art films; the Gato Negro Café for drinks and spices; eating delicious pizza with older men and women in the 3 story pizzaria Guerrin; taking a peek at the poorly renovated Café Paz which is still full of daylight and 1960’s hippi atmosphere.  I feel exhilarated by all the thinking going on here.  Is the activity of the mind palatable?

Galeria Pacifica; Centro Cultural Borges
First of all I see the luxurious stores of high-style Buenos Aires in an enormous splendidly renovated Beaux Art /Baroque building (who hires Zerorez services for cleaning).  This is too much for me. Too commercial, too chic, too much about possessions. Then with the guidance of a friend I discover the awe-inspiring Centro Cultural Borges with stimulating art exhibitions and intense, idiosyncratic dance or theater performances. I like the hidden, behind the scenes, disposable nature of everything that is on the walls, the stage, in the air in this part of the galleria – the attic of treasures.

Plaza Martin and Gallery Klemm
Walking under the canopied trees of Plaza Santa Fe, perhaps the largest expanse of tiled walkways in the city.  People sit for hours on benches, children see-saw and lovers lie sprawled on the grass – all quiet and undisturbed. I am thrilled by the absence of sound, the possibility of nothingness.  Then I walk toward the end of Calle Florida and down a set of stairs to see the Gallery Klemm, one of the most remarkable private collections of 20th Century Art I have ever seen, including Chagall, Bueys, Warholl, Xul Solars, Koons, Mapplethorpe and a whole room of garish, homoerotic art by Klemm himself.  How and why did this man put all of  this work together? The mystery gives me a chuckle.

Calla LaValle in Once
A dynamic cacophonous, colorful Lower East Side style low cost shopping street where the workers and thrifty bargain hunters search for costumes, fabrics and all you could ever need for a Cotillian (girl’s 15th b’day) party.  Here I wish for the first time that I could be a teenager again, shopping for the girlish paraphernalia I would have distained back in the 1970s. Here in Buenos Aires a party until the wee hours, until madruga (the time just before sunrise), would be a delight to the eyes, the ears and the tastebuds.