Take part in the Argentine asado tradition

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Argentine Asado Grilled Steak

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Enjoy an authentic Tango Night Out

October 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

TangoTrips Buenos Aires Tango Tour

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How to Make Great Images with a Point-and-Shoot

September 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Photojournalist Jerry Nelson shares his tips for how to get the most out of your point-and-shoot or camera phone

One of the challenges that I face almost daily as a pro photographer is the fact that with the proliferation of cameras, everyone thinks they’re a photographer.

I’m not a songwriter and putting a guitar in my hand and showing me a few basic chords doesn’t make me a singer and giving me a paintbrush doesn’t make me a painter.

Yet, everyone with a camera thinks they are a photographer.

The majority of cameras — 85% according to some studies — in use today are either camera phones or point-and-shoots.  With some guidance and practice even someone with the most basic point-and-shoot can drastically increase their picture taking skills.

Regardless of the platform, most users fall on a continuum between being a Happy Photographer and a Detailed Planner.

Happy Photographer

We all know digital camera users that think that taking pictures is switching on the camera, holding it at arms length at the weirdest angle possible and clicking the shutter over and over and over again — hardly giving any thought to where the subject is in the frame.

At the end of the day, these images are just a ferris wheel ride between some great creative shots and the bizarre.

Detailed Planner

At the other end of the continuum is the Detailed Planner.  We all know photographers like this also.  The person with the camera spends hours — well it feels like it — getting you posed just right and then spends more time staring into their view finder and playing with the controls (if any) to make sure the exposure is perfect.

Once you hear the click of the shutter, you relax and try to move on only to find out that the photographer needs to go through the whole thing again because the sun moved, the reflection changed, someone walked in front of the viewfinder, you closed your eyes or, well, pick any excuse.

So maybe it sounds like I’m making these two types of shooters sound evil.  Truth is, even the best shooters that I know do both at times.

A good shooter has the ability to be spontaneous, experimental and creative yet still take the time to consider the photos that they are shooting BEFORE they go into rapid-fire-sequence.

If you ask yourself just five questions before taking the shot, you’ll find the results are better than what you’ve been getting and you’ll get better shots more consistently than if you just randomly fill your card with images.

• What is the subject of this photo?
• What is the mood of the moment?
• What is going on in the background of this shot?
• Is the place I’m shooting in light or dark?
• Is my subject moving or still?

Asking yourself these questions might seem like it puts the brakes on the creative process.  Well, taking too much time can definitely kill the fun and only you can assess the moment to see which end of the spectrum you need to shoot from.

You can save yourself — and your subjects — some aggravation by anticipating the shot, looking through the viewfinder and snapping the picture.  Don’t over plan.  Be creative. Have fun.

Camera Phone

No matter what camera you use to make images, composition is the key that makes or breaks them.  It’s never the camera that makes the image — it’s you.  Or more precisely, it’s your eye.

If you’re like most iPhone/Camera users, you’ve downloaded a bunch of camera apps.  Maybe you delete them quickly or maybe there’s a few still hanging out that you haven’t used in a while.

Doesn’t matter.  Delete all the camera apps now.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Done?  Good.  Now we can get on with the serious business of making some great images.

Great images come from holding the camera properly, managing perspective and paying attention to composition.

When you’re taking the image, hold the camera up while you keep your arms close to the body.  Holding the camera steady is key regardless of what kind of image maker you have, but it’s more critical with the small format of the iPhone.

Frame the scene in your viewfinder, take a breath and push the shutter.  That’s all there is to it.

Once you get comfortable composing the shot, you will want to take images every day and that’s the best way to learn to pay attention to the settings around you.

What is Perspective?

One example of perspective.  Notice how the tracks seem to converge in the disance.

One example of perspective. Notice how the tracks seem to converge in the disance.

Perspective is one of the ways that the eyeball can judge depth within a scene and refers to the angle and location of parallel lines within a scene.

If you’ve ever stood on railroad tracks and  noticed how the rails start getting closer in the distance, you’ve seen perspective.

Another way to think of perspective is the ‘binocular’ effect your vision experiences when you look at a distant object.  Because your eyes are spaced several inches a part, your brain receives two different images that are combined to produce the feeling of depth and perspective.

The change from binocular to monocular can be challenging when someone loses sight in one eye as all depth perception goes out the window and the person needs time to re-learn and readjust.

A point-and-shoot can never ‘learn’ how to see depth; you as the photographer have to give it that ability by using a technique called ‘layering’ to do it.

Layering, like many other things, isn’t difficult once you’ve practiced.

In essence, layering is the placing of one or more objects in the foreground and the subject of your photograph in the background.  Or vice versa – placing something in the background behind your subject that appears in the foreground.

By itself this can get confusing to the viewer of the image though.  Which object is ‘the’ subject of the photograph; the one in the foreground or background?  A technique called “bokah” comes to the rescue.

"Bokah", an effect you've seen many times.

“Bokah”, an effect you’ve seen many times.

If you’ve seen a photograph where the object in the foreground was in nice, sharp focus while the object(s) in the background were fuzzy and blurred, then you’ve seen bokah at work.

Depending on the make and model of your camera phone or point and shoot you may be able to achieve bokah also.  If you can’t then you’ll have to resort to photo editing through software to accomplish it.

Composition

A plane over a busy airport.  The story is obvious.

A plane over a busy airport. The story is obvious.

Composing an image through the viewfinder is subjective.  What one person finds pleasing and appealing, someone else won’t like it.

Basically, composition is organizing and arranging the individual details of the scene in front of you into a pleasing arrangement.  While there is no right or wrong composition in photography, a composition that shows what your intended meaning was is affective.  If the image confuses the viewer, then it’s a bad composition.

Rules of Composition are Just Guidelines

You don’t need to think that guidelines of composition are hard-and-fast and the photography police will come take you away if you break them.  The guidelines are just that — guidelines.

Photographic guidelines are valuable.  They are time-tested and have provided great guidelines for shooters regardless of the skill level.

Now, go have fun and make some great images!

Shoot Outside the Postcard

September 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Buenos Aires-based photographer Jerry Nelson shares his top tips for better snaps

metropolitan cathedral interior

Metropolitan Cathedral Interior

Welcome to Buenos Aires.  Home of the Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayo, Metropolitan Cathedral and a bunch of other potentially iconic photographs.

How many times have you stood in front of a world famous landmark and realized that every possible shot that could be taken has already been taken by one of the thousands of tourists that have stood in that spot before you? You are on a once-in-a-lifetime trip and your goal should not be to bring back images that look like the postcards at the hotel or – worse yet – the pictures that are goofy and don’t do anything but scream, “An amateur took me!”

So when you visit the Casa Rosada don’t try to capture the palm tree to frame the photo with and for Pete’s sake, do NOT have someone pose with the Obelisk as if they’re holding it up.

Here’s some things to keep in mind when you’re photographing a famous landmark in Buenos Aires.  Relax, you can use the tips when you return home to keep taking better images than your friends.

1.  Get the cliche shot out of the way.

Title Test

The May Pyramid in Plaza de Mayo

Go ahead take the shot of the Casa Rosada with the palm tree.  You won’t feel right unless you do, so go ahead and take the picture.  Got the shot?  Okay, now think of some different ways you could capture the image and add your OWN iconic slant to the same subject. Look for the buildings reflection in windows or a puddle if it just rained. Include the local architecture, shoot it as a silhouette.  There is really no limiit to what you can do when you are looking for different ways to see.

2.  Practice at home.

Every town and city has its own iconic landmarks. While it may not be a art deco building, it doesn’t matter. Maybe there’s a statue, a church steeple heck, even a grain elevator.  Get your camera and to out to see it for the first time again. Work the scene and find a creative way to frame it.

3.  Don’t forget people.

Be sure to include people in your frame. They can add interest and movement to otherwise stale postcard type shots. People work especially well by adding a sense of scale when you’re shooting large buildings.

Plaza de Mayo is the epicenter for protests and demonstrations in Buenos Aires

Plaza de Mayo is the epicenter for protests and demonstrations in Buenos Aires

4.  Practice.

The more you practice the quicker your eye will become at spotting those interesting shots when you visit a new place. Your images will never be boring again!

 

 

What is the best Tango Show in Buenos Aires?

August 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Rumi Nightclub

June 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Nightlife under the lights

Going loco on the dancefloor at Rumi, Buenos Aires

The trademark red lights of Rumi are anything but a sign to stop. And as long as you don’t, you’re in for a good night. Rumi boasts a welcoming and sizable venue for dancing, food, lounging and drinks, and even doubles as a restaurant in the earlier hours (at around 10pm or so).

Rumi is much more of a boliche (nightclub) than a bar or restaurant, but holds on to its desire to be all three just enough. Naturally, like any boliche/bar/restaurant in Buenos Aires, the hour in which you arrive will drastically determine the night you have in store. Because Rumi is the perfect halfway point between the larger clubs like Museum & the once famed Opera Bay, and the smaller boliches (where you find your self fighting for room at the: bar, dance floor, restrooms, entrance, etc…), it’s a great way to enjoy Argentine nightlife without having to embrace the extremes. The red lights of Rumi shine from the outside beckoning patrons to enter…

Rumi’s Wednesday Night Dinner Special

If you’ve arrived early then you’ve already avoided the fuss of waiting in line and probably sauntered your way right on in. At around 10:30pm the club serves dinner. Rumi is known for its Wednesday night, when for a fixed price you can choose between a choices of entrée, drink and dessert. The menu offers rotating options, but could be something like steak and pasta, both of which are delicious, and your choice of beers, wine or coffee. Afterwards, choosing which ice cream dessert most suits your fancy won’t be an easy feat!

Taking it easy at RumiNightclub

The Early Bird Catches the Booth in Buenos Aires

The restaurant set up is calming and still, and you’ll most likely be set up with a table on the dance floor. Keep in mind you’ll hardly notice that the exact spot you’re eating at will soon transform into a sea of dancers. However, asking politely, calling ahead, or knowing the owner might get you a booth seat located away from the dance floor. This eating scenario is more reminiscent of higher end restaurants and is also a great place to be seated if you plan on staying for the music and dancing.

The booths turn into a wonderful hiatus from the energy of the dance floor and are a perfect place to rest your feet and rejuvenate your spirits. There are seemingly endless benefits to arriving early, and here are just a few: you can see who’s arriving, who’s looking good and if it’s worth hanging around for.

rumi

So, You Think You Can Dance?

If you and your amigos have made other plans and have already enjoyed dinner, a siesta and perhaps a drink or two at another bar, then you’re here to dance. Arriving around 2:30am, you’re amongst the fashionable Argentines who are here for fun and to bust some moves. At this point the tables have been cleared, the music is pumping and everyone around you is here for the same reason. All those early birds who aren’t in it for the long haul, have flown the coop.

Rumi has a lovely outside terrace where people enjoy the fresh air and the occasional cigarette. If you want in, you’ll have to wait AND pay your dues. The covers very from weeknight to weekend, coming in a tad steeper on the nights truly dedicated for the night owls. Passing under the red letters of Rumi, yet more red summons you toward the dance floor.

Propping up the bar at Rumi, Buenos Aires

One of Rumi’s greatest perks is the bar and dance floor set up. The bar runs the length of the dance floor so there are no corner bars you need to fight and huddle your way into. The DJ booth is opposite the entrance where the man in charge of the decks quickly changes up synthesized pop hits to pumping techno as he feels out the vibe of the crowd. Those relaxing, watching or simply enjoying from afar seem to melt away, making the dance floor the center of a attention. And why shouldn’t it be? The surging crowd is filled with energy and the club stays this way until the sun comes up, and your priorities switch from boogie to bed.

A Word About Nightclub Ambiance

As mentioned, the layout of Rumi does a lot for the club. The bathrooms are upstairs and separate from the club and the hallway leading to the dance floor creates a sort of ‘calm before the storm’. Here you can find couples snuggling and making out in sphere shaped chairs, between bouts of dancing.

Rumi isn’t unaware of its red-light stereotype and hired entertainment is much more “red-light district” than the rest of the club. A feature dancer or two may be propped up for all to see and combing the crowd are other colorful entertainers. It adds a great mix of flavor to the club in the later hours and the crowd digs the extras like glow sticks and candy handed out by the hot-bodied dancers or men in drag. Yet another visual to keep your interest peaked is the footage of live concerts and music videos projected on the screens above the dance floor. You’re sure to draw inspiration from somewhere and I’m sure you’ll enjoy what Rumi is throwing down on the dance floor.

Rumi Nightclub, Buenos Aires

Getting there

Rumi is located on the Costanera of Buenos Aires, but not near Puerto Madero. Instead, look north. It’s much closer to Belgrano and the cab rides are cheap from other eating and nightlife areas such as Recoleta, Palermo or Las Canitas. Mention the club name to a cabbie or scribble down the address and you’ll be there in no time.

Location of Rumi Nightclub

Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 6442, near La Pampa, Costanera Norte

Tel: 4782-1307,  Website: http://www.rumiba.com.ar/

Buenos Aires Zoo

November 22, 2007 by · 10 Comments 

It’s all happening at the zoo…

Elephants at Buenos Aires Zoo

The Buenos Aires Zoo is spectacularly charming for anyone with an afternoon to spare. Located in the heart of Palermo off the Plaza Italia subway stop, the zoo spans the distance between Avenidas Las Heras and Libertador. Home to over 350 species and known for some of its exotic breeding, the zoo is the perfect place for families, a romantic date or an afternoon alone.

On sunny weekends this attraction is packed full of children, which isn’t always entirely different from the weekdays, when many school field trips attend. Nevertheless, the best time to visit the zoo is on a sunny weekday afternoon, when you can lounge in front of the white tiger enclosure or elephant house with few others peering over your shoulder.
Feeding time at the Buenos Aires Zoo

Buenos Aires Zoo details

The zoo’s entrance is located on the corner of Avenida Las Heras and Avenida Sarmiento. Cost varies depending on what you want to see and how much you want to spend. General Admission (Entrada General) gives you access to most of the zoo. However, there are several exhibits requiring the more advanced pass (Pasaporte), which gives you access to exhibits such as the Aquarium, Reptiles and Rainforest, as well as the ‘Dragon House’ and a boat ride on the lagoon.

The General pass shouldn’t be overlooked however, as the majority of the zoo is indeed found within the General layout. Meanwhile, the Aquarium has penguins with both fresh and saltwater fish (including piranhas) in large tanks and the reptile area is eerily captivating (especially for the boys). However, if after purchasing the general pass and you find yourself thinking that the Rainforest exhibit looks too good to pass up, a few pesos extra at the entrance to each additional exhibit will grant you entry.

Nice views in the Buenos Aires Zoo, Palermo

Don’t feed the animals (or do!)

OK, so you have your pass… now, where do you begin? Upon admittance you’ll see a large entrance where you can purchase disposable cameras, snacks and also rent lockers. They also have professional photographers if you want to capture the moment without any blurs or overexposures, which is ideal considering the entrance is next to a picturesque lagoon where flamingos lounge on the far side of the fountains. (Look closely and you’ll also see snapping turtles!)

The entrance area is also an excellent chance to buy some animal food (Comidas Animales) – throughout your journey you’re welcome to feed elephants, alpacas, monkeys, camels, deer, zebras and other feed friendly animals. The food bags are affordable, as are the larger bins. While you’ll find yourself wondering how it’s possible that all of these different animals eat the same food (maybe save yourself some cash and try it out on the kids… just kidding!), it’s a wonderful way to interact and gain the attention of the more commonly aloof critters. Some of the animals will even play up to the food, with elephants raising their trunks and monkeys motioning for you to throw more.

Some of the enclosures are so close to the animals themselves that sneaking in some petting (while you’re feeding the camel, for instance) isn’t difficult. Naturally, it’s important to be socially conscious of the safety of the animals and yourself, so be mindful when you’re petting the zebra. If the kids are complaining that you’ve run out of food, then there are stations located throughout the Zoo where more can be purchased.

Also, if the Comidas Animales didn’t go over so well as the kids’ snack, then there are stands where popsicles and other treats can be found. However, like most zoos, these are extremely overpriced… so, if you go over to the sides of the zoo (by the fence) you will often find street vendors that will sell you a larger variety at half the price, right through the gaps in the fence! In Buenos Aires, where there’s a will, there’s a way .

A Camel has the hump at Buenos Aires Zoo

You are HERE

The layout of the zoo is simple so you don’t have to worry about missing anything. Posted maps along the way indicate your position, but by following the main path you’ll surely see it all. If you’ve taken this zoo-pert’s advice and headed RIGHT upon entry, your first stop will be the polar bears with their large swimming pool and the Aquarium, should you choose to view it.

The elephant house is enormous and the elephants seem to spend most of their time near the perimeters in hopes of catching some snacks purchased by zoo goers. Again the intimacy of the Buenos Aires zoo is spectacular and it’s breathtaking to see these amazing animals up so close.

The zoo is also known for its success in breeding white tigers and these, along with the other large cats (pumas, cheetahs, jaguars and lions) are all in well built enclosures where they’re easy to spot. Each enclosure lists the animal with some basic information for those wishing to educate themselves on the wildlife. Information such as where you can find them in the wild, the types of food they eat (interestingly enough, none mention the Comidas Animales!) and other key characteristics about each inhabitant is listed.

If the white tigers aren’t impressing the kids and they’re getting rambunctious, not to worry. The middle of the zoo houses a playground fully equipped with swings and slides for them to exert all that extra energy. The zoo also has two carousels located at the back and far left. The one in the rear is always running and is nearby a rest area with food. It’s a great halfway point and the perfect load off.

Zoo and more

The region dedicated to Africa is located on the left side of the zoo which again bodes spectacularly intimate views of anything you’d hope to see. This gives way to a petting zoo where at the end of your journey (you’re actually allowed to here!) to pet a family of goats, donkeys and Shetland ponies.

If you haven’t had your fill by this time, take another loop. Or, if you have, you’re back at the lagoon and ready for home… Once you’re home and realize that house cat of yours isn’t exactly living up to those white tiger cubs, visit the zoo website to see what other activities and adventures the zoo has to offer. This includes information on birthdays, guided tours and other specialized events: www.zoobuenosaires.com.ar (one such specialized event at the moment is night time zoo opening, as reported on here in Buenos Aires Weekly).

Giraffe at Buenos Aires Zoo

Location of Buenos Aires Zoo

Corner of Avenida Las Heras and Avenida Sarmiento, Palermo

Website: http://www.zoobuenosaires.com.ar/

Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

October 7, 2007 by · 8 Comments 

A quiet nature reserve just steps from the city

Viewpoint in the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

The hustle and bustle of the City Center are lost in the cooling mood of the only ecological reserve in the city, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur. A stone’s throw away from the trendy, modern neighborhood of Puerto Madero and you find yourself walking along the park’s boardwalk littered with nuzzling couples, parillas (steakhouses), and more pigeons than you can throw a stick at.

The Costanera Sur’s walkway borders the front of the reserve and from there you can see the greater landscape that opens up into the park. The boardwalk itself is entertaining, with beautiful architecture and sculptures, casual eateries and dozens of pickup games of futbol. Your initial examination of the swampy marshland is only an introduction to the many more birds and interesting views that await you upon entering.

Patio area in the Costanera Sur nature reserve

Buenos Aires grows its own ecological reserve

The city of Buenos Aires has seen its fair share of change over the years, and the history of the reserve is part of this constant transformation. During the city’s modernization in the mid-20th century, remnants of demolished buildings and construction debris were discarded into the Rio de la Plata. Gradually the debris, mixed with sand from the river began to create the marshy foundation for what is now the reserve. Soon, the plants began to grow, and not long after the birds followed. The ecological park is the result of this interesting history, and a great location for observing that fascinating border where city and country convene.

So although you may see more than a few empty bottles and wrappers that have been thrown all over the small concrete divider at the start of the boardwalk, just remember that debris and waste is the reason you’re there in the first place! And don’t worry, once inside, the heart of the park is much cleaner and well kept.

Nature consuming the city at the Costanera Sur?
[Photo Credit: jmpznz, under this CC licence]

Rent a bike to help explore the nature reserve

The park has two entrances. The main entrance is located on the southern side of the boardwalk and is an excellent place to rent a bicycle for the afternoon. This isn’t a bad way to go if you want to maximize your time bouncing around from view to view.

The entire walk around the reserve will take you more than an hour and that’s without stopping to peer through the reeds and to try and identify birds. The reserve offers several viewpoint stops that allow you a moment to pull out your binoculars and scan over the marshes that navigate through the wetlands. If you forget to bring your own, a few monedas (coins) will allow you a peek through the public binoculars that are placed along decks that skirt out over the marshlands.

Spectacular views with interesting backdrops

The views in the reserve are spectacularly endless. From the parks entrance a quick look back gives you a different view of the boardwalk with the city stretching up behind it. Wandering through the dirt laid paths are benches that offer a brief rest while you take in the quiet escape you’ve earned from your walk.

Perhaps most breathtaking are the views on the eastern side of the park. The Rio de la Plata borders this edge of the reserve and boats can be seen sailing in the distance. The air here is cooler and cleaner than in the busy city and the grassy areas for sitting are a great place to settle down for a relaxing view…

Costanera Sur View in Buenos Aires

This side of the reserve not only boasts amazing views of the river, but one of the best of the city. As you’ve chosen an afternoon away from the crazy downtown streets, it’s more than rewarding to see the city settled in the distance among a foreground of reeds and cattails.

Hide away from busy Buenos Aires down by the river

If you’ve entered the park from the south your walk continues past more scenes of the city and river. The river offers a true boardwalk where with some innovation and a keen eye you can find the entrance from inside the reserve and walk out along the river. On a hot day, or if you’re looking for a truer sense of solitude, this is one of the best hiding places in the city.

A closer look at the passing barges and water below will bring you even further away from the demanding pace of downtown. The northern side of the park offers many other surprises for those with a sharp eye. If you’re riding your rented bicycle too fast you may miss the small veterinary clinic and adoption center at the northern entrance of the park. Designed to offer veterinary assistance to the many birds that inhabit the reserve, you can see hawks and larger birds of prey that may usually be flying too high overhead for such a close examination. The small building also houses some wayward dogs that are now up for adoption; probably a better bet if you’re a Buenos Aires inhabitant rather than a traveler.

The Rio de la Plata as viewed from the Costanera Sur

The end of a relaxing day at the Costanera Sur, Buenos Aires

From here, you’ve almost completed your circle. Your choices of return are to take the northern exit and walk back using the footpath, stopping for any number of snacks along the way (sure to be meat). Or, heading back from inside the park instead gives you a chance to prolong your afternoon oasis and take in more of the reserve.

When you do in fact decide to head on out of the nature reserve, Puerto Madero and the water diques (canals) are your transition home. You’ve probably found yourself hours later and the countless restaurants and bars located here are a perfect way to end your afternoon, or begin your evening. Whether you’re a Buenos Aires native or first time visitor, the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur is an ideal way to escape from the city without the headache of organizing day trips or the burden of their cost. Whether you’re a country mouse stuck in the city, or simply looking for an afternoon off, put this attraction near the top of your list.

Location of Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

Av. Tristán A Rodríguez 1550, near Padre M Migone, Puerto Madero

La Milonga de los Consagrados

October 1, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

Tango dancing in the south of Buenos Aires

La Milonga de la Consagrados, Buenos Aires

*If you want to check out some authentic tango salons in Buenos Aires, the easiest and most fun way to do so is on a private tango nightlife tour, where your personal guide will show you the local scene and explain everything that is going on to you, taking you to the best places on the night of your choice. For more information, click here.*

La Milonga de los Consagrados is just one of the many places in Buenos Aires where you can spot locals dancing tango in a more traditional setting. Different from the professional Tango Shows in Buenos Aires, a milonga is full of regular Buenos Aires residents who come out to dance tango for their own entertainment!

Same venues, different milongas…

As mentioned in the excellent overview on Tango in Buenos Aires, even if a milonga is in the same salon as another, each event will still have its own character depending on the day of the week, the organizer, the crowd, and if it’s in the afternoon or at night.

Los Consagrados is in the same salon as the famous former Niño Bien of Thursday nights (in the wonderful Centro Region Leonesa, which is in the barrio of Constitución, just a few blocks away from the adjoining San Telmo), but it is a totally different experience. The fact that it’s held on Saturday afternoons, the traditional “difficult” day for singles, makes it even more of a plus.

Mass of tango dancers at the Los Consagrados milonga

A perfect tango salon

For one thing, the salon is perfect: large wooden dance floor, high high ceilings with a skylight, a bar, red velvet curtains at each end, a balcony for smokers. It is old and elegant at the same time, with the faded ambiance that foreigners especially love about Buenos Aires.

This is not a tourist milonga by any stretch of the imagination, despite the fact that several tourists do find their way there. The majority of the dancers are locals and regulars – sitting at the same tables week after week.

The atmosphere is friendly and open (although the strict codes of tango – or codigos – do apply). Men sit on one side, women on the other, couples and mixed groups at either end. It is necessary to cabecear (nod) to get a dance. There is very little of the snobbishness and elitism that permeates milongas such as El Beso and Maipu 444. There are also very few of the “bottom feeder” types, who come to prey on foreigners, such as can be found in La Ideal. The level of dancing is fairly high.

A Tango Champagne moment at the Milonga de los Consagrados, Buenos Aires

Tango with a twist

Unlike many milongas (Chique, for example), tandas (blocks) of other rhythms are always played during the afternoon. You can expect a tanda of tropical rhythms (merengue and cumbia), rock ‘n roll (Dixieland to Elvis) and folklore (La Chacarera). The DJ is capable, but tends to be a little unoriginal and repetitive.

Cherie and Ruben dance the Chacarera

Finally, for added excitement, each week there is a sorteo, an entrance ticket prize draw, for a bottle of champagne or a snack plate. Best of luck!

[Article written by Cherie Magnus]

Location of La Milonga de los Consagrados

Humberto Primo 1462, between San Jose & Saenz Pena, Constitución (a few blocks from the neighborhood of San Telmo)

Reservations: 15-5892-2056.
If you want to attend Los Consagrados on your own:

  • Opens Saturday afternoons 4.30pm-10.30pm
  • Reservations are necessary (see below for telephone number)
  • Organizer: Enrique “Gordo” Rosich

San Telmo Sunday Fair / Feria

September 29, 2007 by · 16 Comments 

Buenos Aires Antiques and Beyond

Colorful Soda Siphons at the Feria de San Telmo, Buenos Aires

The Feria de San Telmo is one of the most notable and popular events that takes place in Buenos Aires. Nestled in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, the San Telmo Fair is bustling with unique artisans and antiques every Sunday from about 10am to 4pm (depending on the season and the weather). Perhaps its greatest qualities, besides the architecturally beautiful neighborhood which it calls home, are its exclusive goods and reliable nature. Never a Sunday will there be without tourists pouring into the cobblestone streets of San Telmo for one of a kind antiques, trinkets, art, tango and delicious food.

The San Telmo Fair, in Plaza Dorrego

Set your alarm, it’s morning in San Telmo

The true Feria de San Telmo is in Plaza Dorrego, although, it spills out into the surrounding blocks making it almost impossible to see the entire fair in just one Sunday. Plaza Dorrego houses mostly antique booths where one can find any number of valuables. Some, like original matchbox cars, gramophones and old telephones, which are still fully functional, may fetch a more expensive price, but the authenticity and uniqueness of these antiques make it well worth the extra pesos.

Antique telephones at the Feria de San Telmo

Many booths house truly one of a kind relics where a handmade backgammon board, full dinette sets and antique garments make you feel like you’re looking through your grandmother’s attic rather than a street fair. Antique knives, old jewelry and a myriad of figurines earn a spot in nearly every booth and soda siphons, artwork, mate trinkets and leather goods are in abundance. While the latter may begin to feel redundant all of these effects are an excellent example of Buenos Aires’ charming nature and rich history, and all of them deserve a spot on your shelf.

The Feria de San Telmo isn’t a time to speed shop, as walking too quickly through Plaza Dorrego may cause you to miss the very thing you’ve been looking for. Each booth ultimately has something different to offer and time well spent will turn up something to earn you “Ooohs and Ahhhs” the next time you have guests over.

Puppets at the Feria de San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Take a load off while you load up on anything you want

If you’ve built up an appetite, Plaza Dorrego is bordered by quaint eateries, cafes and bars. One of the varying prices and styles is sure to offer you the exact mid-day break you are looking for. For a taste of home with Argentine style, you can always meander your growling tummy down Defensa Street, an excellent way to view more of the fair. On Defensa, pick up some choripan (a chorizo sausage sandwich) to go and maximize your time munching away happily as you continue shopping (one of the few ways you’ll find mobile food in Argentina). Of course, Buenos Aires never disappoints with a lack of restaurants and a few blocks up or down Defensa and you’re sure to find a place that fits your mood.

Don’t spend it all in one place

If you need a break from the brassy pots and old-style belongings, Defensa provides a more modern attempt at souvenirs. Naturally, leather goods and alpaca furs still pop up from booth to booth, but younger artisans with interesting clothing designs and modern jewelry are a welcome change from the antiques of Plaza Dorrego and the antique stores lining Defensa. If you have room in your suitcase or a place in the corner of your room, quirky lamps and art pieces are a must see. If your outfit needs jazzing up, then the scarves, hats and purses will surely catch your eye.

Brass pots and things in Plaza Dorrego, Buenos Aires

It’s a beautiful Sunday, enjoy the view

If you happen to remember to take your eyes off of the endless maze of booths and gaze upward, the architecture of San Telmo is spectacular and a relic all on its own. San Telmo boasts extremely beautiful buildings that stand as they were, when they were built over a hundred years ago. In fact, the walk from Plaza de Mayo towards Plaza Dorrego is almost as rewarding architecturally as it is for day shopping. Another reason to perhaps leave the house early, and take your time.

If you’ve somehow managed to enjoy all the fair has to offer, and remembered to take Defensa all the way to Parque Lezama, which has its own street fair and flea market, let yourself wander through more of the surrounding blocks. San Telmo’s quaint and quirky nature is spellbinding, and a right turn here or left turn there, and a ten-man orchestra has attracted your attention.

Street entertainers in San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Many of the street performers here deserve a closer look and many of them are geared towards the kids. (It’s important to mention as well, that you certainly won’t leave without catching a street tango performance). Be sure to mark the map with any museums you pass along the way. These gorgeous buildings are eye catching and if they’re not open on Sunday they deserve a day for themselves during the workweek.

Getting there is half the fun

If you’ve taken advantage of San Telmo the way it’s intended, you might need an extra suitcase home and more shelf room once you arrive. The best way to tackle the fair is walking from Plaza de Mayo down Defensa. It’s a wonderful transition from the city and an architectural delight. However, if you prefer to start closer to Plaza Dorrego and jump-start your antique splurge, there is a Subte (subway) stop on the C line at Avenida San Juan, about 6 blocks away from the fair. Like any true gem of a city attraction, don’t expect the fair to jump right out in front of you. From the right (or rather, wrong) side street you can almost miss it, making the San Telmo fair a real Buenos Aires treasure.

San Telmo Fair, Plaza Dorrego

Location of the Feria de San Telmo

Plaza Dorrego, corner of Defensa & Humberto Primo, San Telmo

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