Editors note: In preparation for the EEEvento event tomorrow night, we asked Eve Hyman, a frequent WUBA contributor, to analyze with us the current state of the BA expat hustle. Expats come and go, some stay longer than they’d ever imagined, others have an impact on time and place that become a part of local history. Some pass through quickly and have the times of thier lives, others end up staying forever. With so much coming and going, it’s hard to really understand the scene as a whole, but we thought we’d give it a shot.
By Eve Hyman
Buenos Aires has historically attracted people from abroad and since the peso devalued in 2001, making it an affordable alternative to Europe, BA has seen progressive waves of entrepreneurs, artists and dreamers.
A first generation of expat hustle showed up around 2003/04/05, when prices were low and the political situation had stabilized after tumultuous times around the crash. WUBA, Home Hotel and Help Argentina were expat pioneers, connecting BA to the world at large, each in their way.
A second generation came on the scene in 2006. California Burrito Company, Casa Saltshaker, Expat Connection and a handfull of others offered more services from a foreign perspective. Prices in the city were steadily rising but the word was also continuing to spread about what a great place Buenos Aires is to visit for short or long stays. Property purchases and booming business in Palermo furthered the notion that Buenos Aires remained a popular destination. US and European press maintained their fascination with all things Argentina.
The third generation has recently begun making itself known in 2009. BA’s expat hustle seems to be in its 2.0 phase. Some of the hype may have mellowed but it’s definitely not over. In the face of a world economic crisis, the attraction to Buenos Aires stays strong. With an exchange rate that encourages visitors, endless articles still continue to proclaim BA the Paris of South America, looking for the next hot neighborhood (Boedo or Barracas? Villa Crespo or La Boca?)
Thankfully, the city is still open to new crazy ideas. Meet Tranqui Yanqui, who pushes the limits in art. Music artists like ZZK Records’ roster who blend divergent sounds into the most natural new beats for the dance floor. And happenings to bring it all together like EEEvento (Friday, Aug 7). It’s a place where an organization like FeatBA can build, one creative at a time, encouraging big city dreams of making a living from art. BA is home to those who have the drive to create something out of nothing in a virtual free-for-all, when juxtaposed against other grand cities of the world.
WUBA gets emails everyday about new kids coming to try out BA. School programs and offices of foreign corporations continue to spring up regularly. Small businesses take off, sparked by nothing more than a good idea and the freedom to invest one’s time.
Spanglish is a language exchange held nightly around regular spots in the city, sort of an organized bar chat or like speed dating while embracing a foreign language. 0800 Vino delivers affordable, quality wines to your door and has cheerful tastings most Thursdays in a cellar in Abasto. Graffiti Mundo leads travelers around the street art highlights in BA, offering an intimate perspective on local muralists. Cocina Sunae responds to the strong desire for spice – the urge to liven up local cuisine with curries and herbs from the East.
EEEvento, taking place Friday, August 7, brings each of these together under one roof for a night of friends, flavors, and fun with art by Liz Gleeson and music from Redheadphone, Mataplantas, and ZZK DJ El G. Live bands, an original art installation, and tasty treats are all products of new expat entrepreneurs establishing brands in BA.