Once apon a time, in a distant galaxy, far, far away….
No, okay, one evening, in the distant foggy past of two or three weeks back… Nadia invites Nefta and I, along with any friends we care to bring, to see Diego perform, or make, one of his black light UV paintings.
For regular readers, this is Diego who I had dinner with. Diego who predicted, by drawing it perfectly, the exact outline of my steak, prior to its arrival.
Diego has been hired by “Jet”, out near Jorge Newbury, the domestic airport.
Jet is, I am constantly told, currently the top, top, no, no, the top, nightspot in Buenos Aires.
It is apparently where the cream of the super rich kids go, the beautiful, privately-educated young Trust Fund babies. And it is stuffed full of stunningly, unspeakably beautiful women.
We decide to go.
Nefta, his best friend Fede, and two of their young female friends, including the hillarious Sylvana from Uruguay, and I, all pile into a cab.
By law, cab drivers are not allowed to take 5 pasengers, so it’s is clear from the outset our driver is one of life’s natural risk-takers.
Yes, indeed, even with 6 total in his rattlely old car, which he has tuned up to the max, this turns out to be one of the top three most terrifying taxi rides of my life.
Our gaunt driver seems to be pretty coked-up. He looks like Keith Ricards on a bad day, but clearly sees himself as a Formula-1 material. Except he uses the horn a lot. At at one set of lights (he hates red lights) he all but gets into a physical fight with another driver. He whips the wheel around, switches lanes at high speeds, narrowly avoids several high-speed collisions with other vehicles but unfortunately fails avoid some sort of a speed barrier. Traveling over it at over 95 kph, it makes a noise like a canon and nearly rips the exhaust from under the car.
Still, I think, consolingly to myself; at least one can drive fast in Buenos Aires. Full marks for keeping the feel of old urban texture and massive great high speed roads. Quite a trick.
We arrive alive, somewhat miraculously.
Being on the guest list, we ignore and march past the queue. We tell the bouncers our name. We get in for free. We even have a password. Our password is… Jaguar. Free into the top and hottest nightspot in BA. On the guest list. I feel like one cool jaguar myself. A jet-setting, guestlisting, VIP sort of a Jaguar.
Sadly, our easy entrance turns out to be about the last good thing about Jet.
Inside, the claims about Jet turn out to be true. It is clearly full of very wealthy, spoilt young men. The young women are either from the same background, or they are here to get a wealthy, spoilt young man.
Wealthy, young upper-middle class Argentines, plus, obviously, those women that can realistically aspire to join that class based largely on their looks, are extremely good looking.
So, some people here exude monied confidence. Others don’t, they just look incredible. The young women look fantastic, perfect features, long-legged, superbly groomed. A room full of super models, essentially.
That, unfortunately, is about the best thing you can say about them.
Nefta and Fede, who based on my previous observations, I would judge as the the two smoothest operators I have ever seen around women, try to chat to one group of long-legged, vacuous beauties.
The withering look they recieve in response tells them to “Fuck… Off”.
I look on, half appalled and half fascinated, as they pose and pout and feint indifference to everything around them, while desperately hoping to be approached by people they consider worthy of their looks.
It is all slightly pathetic really,
Although I know similar behaviour plays out all the time across the world, certainly I’ve wittenessed it first hand in Ireland, America, France, I find all this slightly depressing.
I had developed a slightly higher opinion of Argentines.
I go off to find Nadia and say hello to Diego and his wife Andrea. Diego’s UV-light picture is coming on nicely, and has drawn quite a crowd.
Diego and Andrea are cool and friendly. But they are here to work, so of course eventually they have to get back to their UV performanc art-event-thingy.
I ask Nadia what I can buy her to drink. Nadia doesn’t know. She asks me what I am having. I say maybe white wine. She hesitates some more. Eventually Nadia decides a glass of white wine might be okay.
I go to the bar and ask for the wine list.
There is no wine list.
I ask for a bottle of dry white wine.
There is, apparently, no dry white wine.
In fact there is no wine of any description.
The girl behind the bar is very reluctant to make eye contact, she really doesn’t want to to deal with me at all. She in fact so deliberately rude, so studied, so transparently affected and… ‘attitudenal” that after a few minutes of this absurd exchange I find myself trying not to laugh at her. I do my best to disguise my mirth but she is not so stupid she can’t sense it across the bar.
This, of course, just makes her more bristling and hostile.
Eventually, after a further eight minutes, and some translation help from Nadia, (and this really is like extracting teeth from a hen) we elicit the information that No, there is never any wine at this club.
Okay, may we buy another type of drink?
No, apparently not. I not allowed to buy drink, of any description, for the next 45 minutes or so.
She telles us, very, very begrudgingly that we will however, be given a drink, if we ask. Ask someone else that is.
This particular creature is the cashier. And there are currently no cash transactions taking place.
Because this now is apparently some sort of promotion or “Happy Hour”.
I reflect that have never seen less Happy bar staff in my life. (And believe me, I’ve met my fair share of bar staff.)
On the contrary, these are the most posturing, neurotic, self-conscious bar staff I’ve ever seen in my life.
I switch my attentions to a barman. He appears to be making and serving two sorts of slightly crap, cheap cocktail.
One is made from vodka and orange concentrate.
But, in an extraordinary leap of imagination and creativity, the other is made from vodka and apple concentrate.
He too is very intent on ignoring me.
I have a very, very hard time getting his attention.
Eventually, after a further eight minutes wait, I finally get his eye. and ask, very politely, for two ‘cocktails”.
After a further eight minutes, I am given one cocktail.
Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps I am too old for this hip, wealthy crowd. Perhaps my clothes, posture or general demeanor screams “Loser!”
Or, perhaps, with my lousy Spanish I have unwittingly commited some appalling lingusitic faux pas.
But no, apparently not. Over the next half hour, Nefta, Nadia, Fede, and the two other girls all try their luck at the bar. They are all treated like shit, blanked, spurned and ignored .
It appears that, since we are not clad in designer gear, and don’t breath and smell of money, nobody gives a dam about us.
More interesting however, to me at least, is just how keen they are to let us know they don’t give a dam. This is the most depressing aspect of the Jet club.
The rich kids are probably fine. Spoilt and complacent yes but, probably not outright pathetic. By contrast, the girls on the make are so desperate they have become beautiuful little sad monsters, with no semblance of humour, sociability or warmth.
I discern or extrapulate this judgement from their reaction to Fede and Nefta, who I know to be two especially warm, charming, charismatic guys.
Fede, apart from his dapper good looks and nice humour, works in a book shop. He also publishes his own small, beautifully printed editions of poetry. He is passionate about literature. He can, and in warm moments does, quote Auden and WB Yeats, at length and from memory.
Nefta is a funny, talented young musician, about to record his second album. Neither is exactly what you would describe as a bore.
Yet, apparently in the world of Jet, neither Fede and Nefta are worth speaking to.
Then bar staff are worse than the young girls on the make, it seems to me, or more pathetic somehow. They are very conscious “their” bar is for some kind of “elite”. Evidently they’ve come to associate themselves with that elite.
I wonder how many trustafarians are working behind the bar at Jet? Not many, I would hazzard.
So, this self-identification with the elite is an entirely one-way deal. The staff are vey conscious of the clients. The clients barely notice the staff.
This, evidently is what the desperate craving to be wealthy and fashionble has done around the wordl. And to these good looking young people, in “Jet”.
Shrivelled their souls and hearts to the size of a raisin, made them into parodies of real people, people with soul, heart and guts.
Eventually Sylvana, (God bless her) declares this is the most crap, boring kip of a place she has ever had to endure in her life. We can do what we like, but she needs to go now.
I almost pick her up and kiss her.
We leave the awful club and wait on the huge highway outside. No taxi driver is prepared to take five people on the return journey.
Except one. But he wants more than double the fare.
We are all a little out of sorts at this stage so Fede more or less tells him to take a hike.
We need to two separate catch buses home. It takes over an hour and half.
This particular jaguar, will not be visiting Jet again.