In Argentina, Buenos Aires, Sud America, tunnnneeeee! on April 20, 2010 at 10:25 pm


Stood outside as we got there early, waiting for the place to open, for the locals to rouse themselves and come out. Nervous about my pigdin spanish, how to order rum and cokes at the bar? answer either ask for a ron y coca, or a cuba libre. Problem solved.

Even in buenos aires they do that bullshit of keeping you waiting outside, when there’s plenty of space inside. Got to give the impression that people are dying to get into this place.

Two rooms in here, don’t find the other room til later when more drunk members of the group than I drag us in there, because the music in room one’s gone a bit housey. Two bands perform before hand, the first very reminiscent of early Lenny Kravitz, their songs never get out of first gear, midtempo numbers with a slightly paunchy black haired singer whose voice isn’t strong enough, and lacks the stage presence to drag a sombulent crowd with him. There are some interesting melodies they create but the drop never comes, and I’m bored before they’ve even finished the intro’s to each of their songs.

2nd band is fronted by a guy from Coventry, but they start audaciously with a man playing bagpipes, as the rest of the band come out on stage. But thankfully he doesn’t stay out for the whole set. But they are definitely more RAWK! Lead singer’s got out of control blond curly hair, shirt over his tee, and lots of energy and he swaps between singing songs in spanish and english. The band a three piece pound their way through their songs, battering them to submission, dragging us with them, lively, and excitable, much more involved in giving the crowd a good show. They do a song at the end which sounds like a red hot chilli peppers cover, but I haven’t heard enough of their songs to know and the other rock bods beside me disagree so I let it go. But I’m sure I’m right.

Stacatto dance, hip, hand, leg, foot, head turned, frozen, fractured as the strobe blinks, ice White, cold blue, as the four to the floor builds, electronic yelps twist and blare, jump from one foot to the next, take over the space, bounce from one foot to the other. Electronica is big in buenos aires, consuming all others, driving the populace into delirium. And for the time I’m there I let it overtake me.

Club Araoz

They pull shapes, they stand on their hands, legs bent, bouncing on their palms, windmill into head spin, arms out, he music is irrelevant just as long as the beats are heavy and the tempo high. Jazz dancers without the steps, acrobatics valued over a connection to the music, one guy stocky and dark, poplocks and steps to a tune I like him, each step is in time he loves the song or at least can find the bassline in it.
This is club as spectator sport relegated to the circle round the edge, clapping hands, yelling support, providing a backdrop. Never liked that, why come to a club to watch others dance where’s the fun in that!
Then the switch up, an off kilter school yard choreographed routine, full of missteps, pauses and glances to check what’s next to a James brown medley, is ended with a rolling bassline and the circle is broken as the people bumrush the dancefloor and suddenly it’s wall to wall bodies, the hip hop culture club is a sweatbox as hips gyrate and everyone’s two stepping to this big down tempo hip hop which dominates the 21st century, metallic beats, snap out and throb over quantized basslines, that drag, flows that say nothing for sixteen bars, brag and boast, in slurred southern tones, the more things change the more they stay the same.
Hip hop reduced to a cypher, low riders on the video screens, baseball caps with flat peaks, baggy pants slung low, baseball tops, NYC emblazoned jackets, sneakers and gang signs waved high.
For a club that purports to be the home of hip hop culture in this city/country, the dj’s definition of hip hop is fairly narrow, I haven’t heard any of these songs and they are pretty much the same kind of big bang basslines, strange melodic lines and chanted choruses, punctuated every other song by Rhianna warbling over a bumping bassline. If you’d been parachuted into this space you wouldn’t have any sense of the rich tapestry and history of hip hop. I’m tapping my foot and nodding my head because you got to take what you can get, but I’m bored and I’m writing this instead of dancing so make of that what you will. But the young people seem to be feeling it, herking and jerking from side to side, hands held aloft, shocking out to the songs which will define their youths and be played loud at their weddings and their back to 2010 dances.
The dirty south, lil jon, ludacris, yung joc, akon, vocoders, and all the other mc’s and producers who I don’t know have alot to answer for. Hip hop at it’s most dynamic and engaging has a voice and a point of view and a diversity of sounds and ways of being and saying, listening to the mono beat culture purveyed here makes you want to believe in the hip hop is dead mythology that has been stated for the last decade by those who can’t bear the lack of diversity, and hark back to their “golden age” but it is there you just have to look harder for it.

And buenos aires doesn’t have enough black folk to create that space for hip hop diversity, so they follow the major musical trends from the states, and this is what goes platinum, this is what rocks the clubs, this is what they raise their hands to, and I wonder at three o’clock on a Friday morning if the Dj can or has anything else to play.
He runs the deck, verse chorus into next track and I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be so unmoved by an hour and a half of hip hop, even when he plays a couple of songs I know, it doesn’t stir any desire to dance. But when he drops M.I.A’s paper aeroplanes it does bring smile to my face, but then it’s back to the monotony of another jay-z rant over uninspired beats.
As he slips back through the decades, from snoop to cypress hill via snow and sean paul, I can see that hip hop is a cypher through which your personality can be sieved and reconstituted in a more rebellious version on the other side.

selection of songs that Dj played that night. Let me know if you like any of them. I’m still not feeling them.

ps photo’s under youtube clips

and you can’t go to any club without hearing this song.

or this one.

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