Nightlife & the Arts in Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires Nightlife

Porteños love to party. Many don't think twice about dancing until 6 am and heading to work at 8 am. And alcohol doesn't play a vital role in whether people enjoy themselves or not; porteños could have fun at an insurance convention, provided the conversation and music were good and everyone looked marvelous. Indeed, for many, it's better to look good than to feel good.

Nightlife these days is starting earlier. Lately, in an effort to drum up business during the post-work/pre-dinner window, many downtown bars are promoting "after-office" drink specials; it's a happy hour that often lasts until 9 or 10 pm. This recent phenomenon aside, timing in Buenos Aires nightlife is an exercise in patience. Get there too early and the bar will be empty, and you'll be tired when the atmosphere finally builds. When families with kids in strollers don't turn up for dinner until nearly midnight, you know it will take a bit of work to be fashionably late.

Hours are very fluid here, but there are some general guidelines: theater performances start around 9 or 9:30 pm, and the last movie begins after midnight. Bars get busy in the small hours, and clubs, which attract crowds in the 18-35 age range, don't begin to fill up until 3 or 4 am. If in doubt, turn up later than you think is reasonable. That said, the subte closes around 11 pm, so going out means taking a taxi home or staying out until 5 am when trains resume running.

Much of Buenos Aires' nightlife is focused on the past rather than the future. The city's true party animals are—and always have been—the old tangueros who have decades of experience with staying out all night. Given that, it may take a while for you to appreciate local customs, fashion imperatives, and the overwhelming importance of first impressions. That said, you also see the excesses of youth as well as plenty of modern, worldly nightspots.

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