Whether you are glued to a desk, stuck in a kitchen, or sitting in a dingy classroom all day, after-work activities are sometimes the only things that keep you sane. They provide you with the chance to let go of all the pent-up stress you’ve accumulated in the working day, and create a peaceful, two-hour chunk of time where you can focus on something entirely different.
The problem with said activities is two-fold. First, they can be expensive. What seems like a fun aerobics class in a fancy studio can rack up to as much as a steak dinner for two. Second, some of these classes can be a little… competitive. Suddenly, the pottery class you signed up for has become a testosterone-fueled duel where you compare whose ceramic creation looks more like an actual bowl and less like a crummy pile of mud.
These activities should be a way to completely de-stress and alleviate the strain you carry in your daily routine, yet sometimes they can feel a little pressurized themselves.
Fortunately, Buenos Aires is full of community-run cultural centers that teach free workshops (yes, free!) for every porteño’s de-stressing needs. There are plenty of these cultural hubs dotted all over the city, and many of them offer everything from guitar lessons to circus seminars.
We have picked a handful of them so that you can forget about the dinner you were thinking of whipping up, the meeting you have the following day, and that conversation you need to have with someone. As they are all free, you need to sign up either through the individual centers or through the Buenos Aires City government site.
Centro Cultural Alfonsina Storni
Located in Florida Este, this center aims to help develop the community through language lessons, training through apprenticeships and creating workshops of physical, recreational and cultural activities. It was founded in 1920 by Felix Garcia who was an illiterate Spanish immigrant, and the Garcia family’s aim is to provide both new arrivals and local Argentines with the skills to prosper in (the only slightly daunting) Buenos Aires.
The place offers a huge array of classes; what is great about this space is that pretty much all of them start after work, from about 6PM onwards. For the movers and shakers on Monday between 6:15 PM to 8:45 PM, there’s a movement expression class. For the yoga-fanatics they offer yoga classes on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so have a check-up on what timing works for you.
For people (including myself) who just need a solid two hours of complete chill, they run meditation classes on a Thursday. Also, for anyone whose first language is English, it is a great way to listen to Spanish and pick up a few new words, without the pressure of coming back with a reply!
Chacra de los Remedios Parque Avellaneda
This gorgeous cultural center is located in Avellaneda Park, one of the city’s most beautiful green spaces, famed for its wild fauna and flora and abundance of trees. Could there be a better environment to take a yoga class? Unless you managed to bag the Dalai Lama’s actual backyard, then probably not.
There are three buildings that comprise this space. La Casona de los Olivera is an exhibition center for contemporary art, as well as home to the micro-cinema and an area for local artists to meet and greet. El Antiguo Natatorio is an art nouveau building constructed in 1923, and El Antiguo Tambo, which was remodeled in 2005, acts as the performing arts center.
Like many of these spaces, the workshops are so diverse that they could appear overwhelming. We have chosen a few classes throughout the week that will help you relax and free some brain-space up.
The only thing to watch out with this center is that the majority of their classes are scheduled mid-afternoon, so if you work a 9-5 job (like Dolly Parton) you may struggle to fit this in.
If you’re lucky enough to be available on Wednesday between 2:30PM and 5:30PM, Los Remedios offers a creative workshop for adults, that boasts itself as “a space for spontaneity” where you improvise ideas off each other. So often in day-to-day life, we don’t always have a safe space to release all our creativity without judgment.
For those who need a good stretch every Thursday from 3-5:30PM there is a hatha yoga class that focuses on “working to concentrate on breathing patterns to achieve a complete understanding of your body.”
For those who want to get messy, every Saturday there is an art seminar at 10:30AM until 1:30PM which aims to simply be a space where you can channel your inner Picasso, without comparing whose is better (remember the pottery club duel).
Where? Comuna 9 Av. Directorio y Lacarra, Parque Avellaneda
Contact: Visit their website or send them an email
Usina del Arte in La Boca
You may well have visited this phenomenal building, which stands out in all of its grandeur in La Boca. It definitely is the most beautiful space of them all and was built in 1916 by Italian architect Juan Chiogna. It boasts an auditorium that has a capacity of over 1,200 people (!) and a concert space which holds 280 (extremely comfy) chairs. The center also has some rooms for physical and cultural activities.
What’s great about this center is that every week varies and there are new and exciting activities constantly developing. There have been art workshops inspired by famous Latin American artists, martial art classes, dance classes, and sculpting classes. If you’re interested in anything from sports to arts, you will find something new, different and specialized here for every ‘chill’ moment that you need.
Espacio Cultural Marcó del Pont
This space used to be an old family farm, so it has a quaint country-vibe about it in this concrete jungle. It’s based two blocks away from San Jose de Flores subway station, so it’s one of the more convenient locations of all the centers. It has a lot of gallery spaces, so feel free to potter around the art galleries as a relaxing bonus.
The classes it offers are mixed with anything from Afro-Brazilian dance to fileteado (a specific sort of painting which came from Buenos Aires, for those non-porteños).
Our top picks for complete relaxation?
If you want to paint or draw to tap into your inner creative, there’s an adult art and drawing class every Monday at 11AM until 2PM, so if you happen to free on a Monday, start your week the right way.
If you fancy drumming away your problems, every Thursday at 7PM until 9PM there’s a percussion group which plays Afro-Cuban beats. This one’s even good for those who have just a *hint* of rhythm (I may have to exclude myself here).
Where? Gral José Gervasio Artigas 202,
Contact: Send an email
So, there you have it, you’re out of excuses for treating your body and soul right. There are so many health benefits to finding that extra time to listen to your body, whether it’s through yoga, meditation, or painting.
Plus, joining a community-run cultural hub will do wonders for your social life; as they are so widely spread, you could find yourself in a neighborhood you wouldn’t normally explore, meeting people you would not usually bump into.