Monday, May 25, 2009

La Bomba de Tiempo

The Monday night suggestion when visiting Buenos Aires is La Bomba de Tiempo, meaning The Time Bomb- a local percussion show held at the Konex Culture Center.

The corner market makes a killing selling liters of beer to the eager crowd stretching around the corner. Street artists sold their wares along the sidewalk.

Once inside the doors, this remodeled warehouse welcomed hundreds of people, evidently from around the world. The atmosphere a very social, sharing event. More than once was I asked for a sip of my beer as I watched the drummers perform their art in the middle of the crowd.

The smell of illegal substances hung over our heads and under our noses as the room more and more filled while the performers continued on, shifting from one conductor to the next. Each new leader moved his drum team to different rhythms and times by way of hand symbols, like another language that I could not understand, but was drawn to watching. The sounds made my heart beat faster and my feet stomp harder.

From time to time the crowd would yell in delight, as the floor shook with all the dancing and stomping going on. The room was open on one side to the outside, letting out the sounds to the groups sitting out in the large open-air atrium smoking and sipping on the jugs of beer served from the bar.

The first group finished hitting their drums that were situated on the concrete floors at the foot of the stage; we thought the show was over. One and half hours of a drum circle was enough for me, although it was entirely amusing. There didn't seem to be much room for additional rhythm or bass.

Then the main event took the stage in their matching get-ups and robust set of sounds. The conductors changed, just has they had before, but this time with more of a sense or organization in the chaos. The performers seemed to read each others mind, seamlessly going in and out of speeds and solos. What we thought was impossible-- keeping our attention at a drum circle for over an hour-- had been achieved. The new act incorporated a synthesizer for one set lasting for forty-five minutes, and a trumpet for another forty-five. The crowd swooned as the conductors and drummers pulled them in to participate with yelling and dancing.

While leaving, our ears rang with deep thuds and high-hats; we were satisfied with our night at La Bomba de Tiempo. For about $4 USD per person, it proved to be well worth the cost. Although the audience was quite international, there was a definite air of locality and city pride, especially from the performers and many of the crowd members.

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