The main reason I wanted to spend my free time post-study abroad program still bumming around Buenos Aires is that after 6 weeks, I figured I would just be reaching the point where I knew a few people, had a couple bars I liked, and felt like I almost sorta lived here. I didn’t want to give all that up to ride buses for 12 hours so I could hang out in hostels on the other side of Argentina and smoke shitty pot with Belgium backpackers. I wanted to make friends and then hang out with them, not just continuously meet new people. This weekend confirmed that I made the right decision by staying in B.A.
At the start of my trip, I tried to go on CouchSurfing to find some friends. After browsing several dozen profiles where people vapidly described themselves as, “I just love living life and meeting new people. My favorite things are art, music, movies, and having fun!” I wanted to fucking kill myself at a CouchSurfing potluck just to rain on their insipidly upbeat parade. But rather than blow my brains out at a game of disc golf in a park, I used keywords like “punk,” hardcore,” “sex,” and “hate” to find someone who wasn’t just a hippy on a permanent, yoga induced MDMA high. That’s how I found my friend Vick. She invited me to go see this band Los Valientes, but I was already committed to seeing this noise band Travesti (remember that post? Waaaaay back) so I couldn’t make it. But since then we’ve met up for dinner several times and become friends. And last Friday, Los Valientes were playing at this punk bar, Salon Puyrredón, so Vick invited me to eat dinner at her house and then head to the show together.
Over shawarma wraps and”purée de garbanzos con pan arabé” (Spanish for hummus and pitas), Vick and I talked about Buenos Aires punk culture. I learned that the Argentine equivalent of what are called “drag rats” in Austin and were “pit punks” in Boston, are known as “obelos” here. What all of these terms are referring to is the shitty crusty street punks who gather someplace touristy and try to beg for enough change to get drunk. In the center of Buenos Aires’ downtown there is a big obelisk, and since that’s where these shitheels congregate, that’s their name here. In Boston it was “pit punks” because they hung out in the pit outside of the Harvard Square T station.
When I mentioned that after the NOFX concert, one of the punks I bought “pan relleno” (filled bread) from outside the show asked me if we had to fight skinheads in Texas (the one in the center, who had “PUNK” tattooed on the side of his head) I learned that most of Vick’s friends are actually more part of the ska/old-school skinhead scene. Obviously they’re not neo-nazi racist skinheads, but SHARPS (Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice) but that still puts them into frequent conflict with ignorant punks who like screaming “Fascist!!” at anything that moves. She told me that the skinheads have a saying here, “¡Oi y siempre! while the punks have their own counter-slogan, “Ni oi, ni nunca!” which I thought was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. For those of you who don’t get the joke, “oi” is a style of punk music popular with skinheads, but it sounds like “hoy,” the Spanish word for today. So with the play on words, the first slogan means, “Today and always” while the second says, “Not today, not ever!”
After dinner, Vick and I rode the bus to the show which is where I spotted this guy earnestly searching for Waldo in a Where’s Waldo? (¿Donde está Waldo?) book. I don’t know why but this was fucking hilarious to me. At Salon Puyrredón, which is where I went to that punk book fair a while back, we practiced English and Spanish and waited for Los Valientes to go on. With punk bands, you don’t need to go to their last.fm page to find similar artists. You can just look at their patches. So the singer was wearing a Black Flag shirt with a 7 Seconds back patch on his vest, and the bassist was sporting a Bad Brains tee. That gives you a decent idea of their punk style, but if you want more, here’s a video I took with my phone. Thanks iPhone for being a video camera that fits in my pocket. Fuck you iPhone for the shitty sound quality!
After Los Valientes, Vick’s tummy hurt so she headed home and I didn’t really care about watching more bands in a loud bar where I couldn’t talk to people, so I went to some other neighborhood and met up with my friends Paula and Lucia who I’m going to write about in the next post!