There is no doubt that Buenos Aires has a vibrant culture and energy. The city has a long history of art and music, so it is no surprise that there are some really cool venues to show off so much of the amazing local talent. Centros culturales (Cultural Centers) are spaces that are dedicated to the creative works of Buenos Aires artists. A center may be found in an old historical building, a house that has been transformed, or a community space. They are open to the public for little or at no cost.
Some better known bigger and government-run centers include the Centro Cultural Recoleta, Usina del Arte in La Boca and the recently opened Centro Cultural Kirchner in Microcentro. However, there are also many underground local neighborhood centers that are more of an indy scene and give independent and up-and-coming artists the opportunity to showcase their work.
If you are walking along the streets in Buenos Aires on a typical weekend night out, and hear loud music coming from what you might think is a loud house party, it just might be an event taking place at a cultural center. A typical neighborhood cultural center is located in an old house that has been bought by artists, renovated and often painted with elaborate and beautiful murals. There are generally a stage, a dance floor and a bar. They also project a really cool vibe, often playing music accompanied with colorful decor and art installations, and far from the tourist trail.
Cultural centers show off a diversity of arts including live music shows, art exhibits, dance classes, stand up comedy, poetry readings, plays, film screenings, circus performances or club meetings. I recently went to Matienzo Cultural Center and saw a live salsa music event. Another time I went to El Quetzal Cultural Center and enjoyed a Green Drink presentation (a Sustainable Environmental Entrepreneurs meetup). There is truly a very diverse range of activities that these centers can house.
More and more cultural centers of all sizes have been opening over the past several years, as the need for a means to show off the abundance of creative expression and different voices of the city kept building. They help introduce people to new ideas, create a connection between artists and their audience, and provide a supportive network for artists. Buenos Aires’ impressive number of cultural centers shows how much the city is willing to invest in its heritage.
The city is packed with many creative and talented porteños – so check out your local cultural center and ask for a calendar of events and support local art and music! Here are a few that I recommend:
El Quetzal Casa Cultural – Guatemala 4516, Palermo
Club Cultural Matienzo – Pringles 1249, Villa Crespo
Yauss Club – Estados Unidos 509, San Telmo
Centro Cultural Recoleta – Junín 1930, Recoleta
Centro Cultural Kirchner – Sarmiento 151, Microcentro