I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

From Sarli to Lolo: Finding Camp in Buenos Aires

by Whitney Weiss
May 5, 2012

Buenos Aires, Argentina. Best known as the land of steak, NYU study abroads, and those who have become affectionate towards tango at some stage in their lives and decided to relocate. Despite those stereotypes, it's a still-stabby metropolis where the economy nose-dives every decade or so, where until very recently, you could chain-smoke indoors and buy drinks until seven in the morning. In short, it very well could be your kind of town. But what of its less-obvious cultural attributes? Its camp classics? Its not-embarrassing, contemporary underground music?

One thing you'll see no matter what portion of today's programming you're in the midst of is the fact that outside influences factor in majorly. From the dancing Barbies of Lolo's walk down 1980s memory lane to the almost-half-a-million-people screaming their lungs out in a foreign language during Queen's performance, looking to other countries has always been a bit of a thing. Which is how you get amazing piecemeal sounds from bands like the Kumbia Queers, a BA/Mexico-based group whose melding of the punk, the tropical, and the cumbia makes shows raucous free-for-alls enjoyed by everyone in attendance. Likewise, Chancha Via Circuito, the shining star of BA's ZZK label, is known for his ability to combine traditional sounds from the continent with contemporary IDM (not EDM) flourishes. The result: lush sonic landscapes that sound like they're from another planet…or Brooklyn, depending on your mood. And with ZZK artists and the Kumbia Queers touring the world, local noises are definitely having an influence on the underground elsewhere.

Of course, another thing you'll notice while watching today is the fact that womanly assets are front and center in the media. A man whose love of breasts could possibly be outshined only by Russ Meyer, Argentine director Armando Bo was blessed with an ideal leading lady, Isabel Sarli, and an uncanny ability to craft beautiful shots amid the most ridiculous scripts. His films of the 1960s and 70s were sexploitation and camp at their finest, from questionable sex scenes shot amongst hunks of meat to a film set in Argentina's version of Swiss chalet country, where the leading lady cannot stop trying to sleep with every man she sees--including her gynecologist. That champagne popping during the horse copulation scene is the sound of B movies at their greatest, regardless of your Spanish-speaking abilities. 

Whitney Weiss is a resident DJ at Dengue Dancing, the editor of BlackBook's guide to Buenos Aires, and one-half of a band that bridges the gap between Snap! and Quad City DJs. If you want to hear what she's up to, you should visit soundcloud.com/djwhitneyweiss

Whitney Weiss lives in Buenos Aires, where she DJs, throws a party called Father Figures, and is one-half of a band that bridges the gap between Snap! and Quad City DJs. If you want to hear what she's up to, you should visit soundcloud.com/djwhitneyweiss.