When the levels of fried empanada grease in your bloodstream reach critical heights, you know it’s time to take action. But are you fed up of risking your life daily on the obstacle-course that is the porteño street just to get to the park? Can’t take any more loose pavement tiles squirting unsavory sewer-juice all over your nice running shoes? Then look no further than this handy list of our top five inner-city sports, alternatives (although not all guaranteed risk-free) to your regular jog.
Although the more pedantic among us might classify cycling as technically more transport than sport, in Buenos Aires both the above-mentioned state of the streets, as well as the happy-go-lucky (with lucky being the operative word) attitude of your average city driver, make cycling as challenging as the hilliest stage of the Tour de France. If it’s the latter part of Sports & Leisure that appeals to you, wedge your mate into your basket and glide off to the Bosques de Palermo on a Sunday afternoon. If extreme sports are more your thing head down the 9 de Julio at rush-hour wearing the British flag and test your slalom skills as you dodge between death-threats and hit-and-run attempts.
Practicalities: If you’re lucky enough to have a bike of your own head to the Bosques where there are plenty of lovely bike-paths for you to leisurely wheel down. If not, why not make the most of the City Government’s free-cycle scheme and borrow a yellow ecobici bike at any of the designated stations. I recommend the station at the Reserva Ecológica Sur. Just don’t forget to take your passport.
2) CIRCUS SKILLS/SILKS
There must be something in the water in Buenos Aires that fills locals with such extreme desires to juggle. In fact, the circus scene is so big here it’s nigh-on impossible not to make the acquaintance of a lion-tamer at a house party somewhere at some point. Stop at any traffic lights in the city and invariably someone will materialize from thin air and begin to juggle with flaming sticks or saw a bearded lady in half. There’s even a festival dedicated to circus in July. So why not try some of the following: silks, trapeze, tight-rope walking, juggling, or any activity that involves a harness. (It’s perhaps best to leave knife-throwing to the experts, though.)
Practicalities: Try the taller de experimentación aérea at Gascón 104. Check out their Facebook page. Or, alternatively, for a more formal course, sign up to one of those offered by the Centro Cultural Ricardo Rojas.
3) INTERPRETIVE DANCE
It might not be what springs to mind when thinking of extreme sports, but, be warned, dabbling in interpretative dance is risky-business. Once you’ve learnt the basics (1. Anything and anyone can inspire interpretative dance, 2. Any dance-moves are valid and 3. Any collective of more than one person constitutes an appreciative audience) there will be no stopping you. You might be at the MALBA viewing some art, in the Rosedal marveling at nature, or even simply queuing for the bus when inspiration starts to ripple through your body. If you want to pick up some professional tips, head to the more artsy and theatrical neighborhoods in town, like Almagro, where interpretative dancers are, frankly, unavoidable. Pachamama trousers, a palpable halo of incense and a “unique” hair-style are a must.
Practicalities: Make the most of the fact that Interpretative Dance is a sport which not only requires no practicalities, but for which, frankly, practicalities are a big No-No. Just let yourself go with the flow, let the flow engulf you, abandon your body to the flow…
4) POLE DANCING
Here is a sport, you might be thinking, that is for those of you who are more down-to-earth because, according to stereotypes, you can’t sink much lower than pole-dancing (!). However, puns and common preconceptions aside, this controversial past-time might actually surprise you: unexpectedly un-sordid and unbelievably tough on the physique, pole-dancing is guaranteed to whip you into shape in no time. Watch out though, for most beginner pole-dancers the overall appearance achieved is more shaky than sexy; more toe-tied Bambi than luscious-legged vixen. Perhaps get a few classes under your belt before you attempt to impress.
Practicalities: Make a fool of yourself at the highly recommendable class at Palo Chino, Av. Hipólito Yrigoyen 3644. Check out their Facebook page for more details.
Popular with local students, dog-walking offers the dual benefit of exercise as well as extra pocket money. Most expert dog-walkers have achieved gravity-defying maximization of dog to human ratio, with some extreme professionals “walking” up to fifteen dogs. The term “walking” is used here loosely. Any savvy dog-walker knows that if you tie your charges to some railings outside the park for an hour, their doting owners will be none the wiser. The sport ought to be re-named: ‘leave a large crowd of dogs tied to a tree while their owners pay you to read your book and sip a Paso de los Toros on a nearby park bench’, which is arguably not so snappy.
Practicalities: For small, easily manageable dogs that will probably all fit inside a Coto bag, head to Recoleta. For larger, more go get ‘em types head further out of town, into deepest-darkest provincial. Alternatively, to watch masters at work head to Parque Centenario on a week-day.
So there you have it! No more do you need to fight for your life on the pavements of Buenos Aires. Soon you’ll be able to juggle with your empanadas before you eat them, which is guaranteed to make you feel a lot less guilty.