Sarmiento 3131, Capital Federal, Buenos Aires
www.ciudadculturalkonex.orgEAT Forget food; you come here to drink and dance.DRINK A litre of Quilmes beer or a bottle of red wine decanted into a huge plastic cup. Or to really go local, try Fernet – a potent Italian spirit and the adopted drink of Argentina’s party animals – mixed with cola.
BE MERRY Buenos Aires has a reputation for being preppy – and it’s sometimes unfair. Spend a night at Konex and you’ll realise that porteños aren’t all polo-shirt-wearing, creaseless-chino-loving prepsters. Monday nights at Ciudad Cultural Konex have become a mecca for the city’s alternative types, and it’s here that every dreadlocked student, artsy type, thinker, bum, pot-head and the odd gringo throng for the hypnotic rhythms of the La Bomba de Tiempo, a 17-man percussion outfit led by Santiago Vazquez. A Buenos Aires institution, they haven’t missed a Monday night at Konex for the last three years. Combining a dizzying array of drums, from bongos to djembés, it’s hypnotic stuff. And if you’re lucky, you might catch chamamé legend Chango Spasiuk, or another invitee, jamming alongside them. Being a cultural centre, Konex hosts a load of films and theatre performances alongside an eclectic roster of music. What makes the place so popular? There’s nowhere like it in Buenos Aires. A former oil factory built in the 1920s, the interior warehouse functions as a theatre, cinema, bar and party venue, whilst retaining a blue collar grit from yesteryear. But it’s the open-air courtyard that’s best. Looking up at the battered exterior of the factory, a huge neon Konex sign announces the venue, whilst a wide orange staircase snakes up to an upper level where musicians perform. Nestled between the areas of Abasto and Once, the former where Carlos Gardél grew up busking in the backstreets, and the latter the home to second-hand goods stores and kosher cafés serving its large Hassidic Jewish population, Konex is a million miles away from the clichéd ‘Paris of South America’ image of Buenos Aires. And thank goodness for it.