Google translate will tell you that boliche means bowling in Spanish, but in Argentina, this word takes on a whole new meaning. Boliche is Argentine for nightclub, also known as the pieces that come together to form Buenos Aires’s reputation as a destination for great nightlife. A properly done night of boliche’ing will be one you’ll never shut up about, and The Bubble is here to help you accomplish that.
There are surely individuals far more hip and knowledgeable on the matter, but we couldn’t get them to write this article, so you’re stuck with me, a fun-loving yanqui ready to hit the dance floor and accelerate my cultural assimilation through the magic of…reggaeton. (Disclaimer: if you’re over the age of 30, reading this article might give you an automatic hangover.)
When to Go
If you know anything about Argentina, you know that things happen late here. Dinner is eaten around 10 PM, which sets you up for a previa (pre-game) beginning at midnight and a boliche arrival somewhere in the neighborhood of 2:30 or 3 AM. Before 2 o’clock, most clubs will be empty. If all goes well—that is, if you hit the sweet spot for Speed (Argentina’s saccharine answer to Red Bull) and vodka consumption—you won’t be leaving until 7 in the morning. Forget about doing anything the Saturday after going out, because you’ll be sleeping all day.
What to Wear
Before coming here, I read that Argentine women tend to dress more conservatively than women in the U.S. I have largely found boliches to be an exception to this rule. Think impossibly tall, clunky platform shoes, black (p)leather skirts or dresses, and tight, cropped clubby tops that are almost always black or this chain print that seems to be omnipresent in the city’s boutiques. They also wear this snakeskin blazer a lot, which is the same one Julia on the Argentine television masterpiece Millennials wears, so it must be cool.
Men: button-down shirts and tight, black jeans. A t-shirt may or may not fly. I have nothing else to say on the matter. If you want some visual aids, most boliches post pictures of their most fashionable patrons. Check out these albums or these for inspo.
What to Drink
For a truly authentic Argentine experience, imbibe Fernet and Coca-Cola, the unofficial trago of Argentina. However, if you haven’t tried it yet, be warned: Fernet is an acquired taste; it’s bitter and aromatic. For something more familiar, order Speed and vodka, or jugo and vodka, which is essentially a screwdriver. I don’t venture beyond vodka and tequila shots, but that’s just me. If I were you, I would tamp down your expectations and keep your order simple: don’t hold out for some artisanal cocktail creation or anything. Here, the drinks are utilitarian and most often made with rail liquors.
Where to Go (or not)
Bayside is one of the biggest clubs in Buenos Aires, and my friends and I have christened it our favorite. It’s situated at Punta Carrasco, an event venue that sits on the water near Aeroparque airport. On Saturday and Saturday nights only, the venue is host to Bayside Nightclub.
To help you wrap your head around the sheer size of Punta Carrasco, the club can host up to 3,000 people, has 10 bars, and four different dance floors. Don’t get too caught up in the indoor part, because the main attraction here is the outdoor area, where the night sky stretches out above and palm trees dot the perimeter. Earlier in the night, Bayside plays music that is more familiar to gringas such as myself. As the club fills up, they transition to pure reggaeton. There’s always enough room to dance as wildly as you’d like, and the waterfront location makes it a great place to watch the sun rise with your 2,999 new best friends.
Bayside | Punta Carrasco – Av. Costanera y Sarmiento | Facebook
Rose in Rio
Also boasting a waterfront location, Rose in Rio is a classic on the BA nightlife circuit, and it’s nothing if not consistent. The boliche is huge with one expansive main dance floor, an elevated VIP section, and a halfway enclosed outdoor area with its own bar. There is also an additional, more relaxed outdoor part for sitting, smoking, and actually being able to see people’s faces, but good luck finding it. This boliche is a bit of a maze, and my friends and I have struggled to find both the bathrooms and the exit here. Either way, expect crowds of young, well-dressed people and lots of reggaeton.
Rose in Rio | Av. Rafael Obligado 1221 |Facebook
This Palermo boliche is one of the most polarizing clubs in the city: you either love it or hate it. Expect throbbing reggaeton and trap music; dark, flashing strobe lights; and lots of tourists. If you’re looking to club on a Tuesday night, your best option is Kika’s Hype, a house, hip-hop, trap, and EDM party that always draws huge crowds. I remain staunchly anti-Kika, but there are people who swear by it as an alternative to Rose in Rio, where the crowds can get repetitive.
Kika | Honduras 5339 | Facebook
Jet is known as one of the most exclusive and snobby clubs in all of the city. Either go early, or somehow finesse your way onto the list. Be prepared to be looked up and down at the door—dressing to the nines is a requirement for entrance. Once you make it inside, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with an ultra-modern interior, pink neon lights, and a view of the harbor and all of its shi shi, frou frou yachts. Jet is a place you go to see and be seen.
Jet Lounge | Rafael Obligado 4801 | Website
Alamo is technically not a club, but more of a bar/club hybrid. A trashy, trashy hybrid. You’ll have to pay for entrance, but you’re reimbursed with a drink ticket for the same value, which will go far, because the alcohol is cheap here. The interior may be dingy, but Alamo tends to be a good compromise because you can switch off between playing beer pong, dancing, and hanging out on the rooftop. There are two locations, one in Palermo and the other in Recoleta. What’s the difference between the two? According to Max Perkins, former study abroad student and former employee of Alamo, “Recoleta is the OG Alamo: smaller, regular clientele, little nooks and crannies for sweet talking. Palermo is the younger, wilder sibling. Huge dance floor, open sky, twice the security guards and twice the chance of getting your phone stolen. Different tastes for different nights.”
El Alamo | Palermo location – Av. Córdoba 5267 | Recoleta location – Uruguay 1175 | Facebook
One of the few clubs still located in downtown Buenos Aires, Bahrein is a three-story boliche that manages to create a more intimate experience than the other cavernous clubs on this list. Upon entrance, you’ll choose to pay a cover for the basement or the “funky room.” In the basement you’ll find thrumming electronic music and tightly packed dancers. The funky room naturally features funk music, as well as soul and pop. One drawback is that you’re forced to pay for either the basement or the funky room, and will have to pay twice to get into both—so choose wisely.
Bahrein | Lavalle 345 | Facebook
Input is like Kika’s little brother—just smaller and greasier. If you like Kika, you’ll probably love Input. I left early the one night we came here, but had friends who stayed and danced until the sun came up. To each their own.
Input | Juan B. Justo 1658 | Facebook