Thursday, January 22, 2009


This past Saturday night, en route to Cocoliche, my friend Alexandra and I made an impulse pit stop into a rock & roll bar in downtown Buenos Aires. I was excited for two reasons: First, I had no idea there was even such a thing in BA, a city where everyone seems to be obsessed with electronica, '80s pop (no more Madonna concert photos postings on Facebook, please!) and cumbia. Second, because I am, as I like to tell anyone who asks about my taste in music, a rock & roll guy at heart (contrary to the impression you may or may not gotten from reading this blog). I prayed for the White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, anything to chase my electronica blues away.

Interestingly, in the taxi on the way downtown, the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" came on the radio. As I sang along to Mick, I declared myself a huge Stones fan (pre-pomp and circumstance, when the music still mattered), more so than a Beatles fan. Alexandra said that one of the things she likes about me is that unlike most of her gay friends, I'm not a walking cliche. I take it all in and appreciate everything, from the standard gay icons to stuff I'm not necessarily supposed to dig. Little did I know at the time that the rock & roll fun had just begun.

So in we went. The first thing I noticed was that the characters all looked straight out of Seattle, circa 1993. One old-school Chris Cornell lookalike, in particular, seemed to be auditioning for a cameo in the grunge-era classic Singles. As for the music videos that provided the soundtrack, they ran the gamut from Cinderella ("Gypsy Road") to Poison ("Your Mama Don't Dance") to Aerosmith ("Love In The Elevator"). I knew I wouldn't be hearing Karen O or Jack White, but I was nonetheless pleased -- and slightly confused. I have no idea what rock & roll bars in the U.S. are playing these days -- or even what the kids in them are wearing, for that matter -- but I'm pretty sure the likes of Skid Row and Bon Jovi are not on the soundtrack.

I thought back to my favorite scene in The Wrestler where Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei are singing "Round And Round" by Ratt in the dive bar and discussing their shared hatred of Kurt Cobain because he basically killed '80s hair metal with his grunge revolution. Much as I like Nirvana, Soundgarden and the rest of the grunge heroes, I secretly concurred. From the moment I walked into the BA rock & roll joint, singing along to Steve Tyler, until our departure, I didn't stop singing or moving. Surprisingly, however, my fellow revelers were unbelievably tame and well-behaved and didn't even seem to notice the music.

Once we got to Cocoliche, the kids with pretty much living for the electronic grooves, which I still can't quite get a handle on (I guess that recent critic of this blog and of me must have been correct when he dismissed me as "a weathered middle-aged man"), all I wanted was one more retro dose of Cinderella. Don't know what you got, till it's gone, indeed.
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