La Bomba de Tiempo

It seems like there isn’t enough room in the world to contain this sound. The drummers are too many to count, their arms moving with the flurry and momentum of a wildebeest stampede, churning onstage as though they were making butter. Which would be a bad idea. Then they’d get butter all over their drums. No melody. No beats. Just a thicket of mic stands and the sound of two dozen polished gleaming drums, with a weirder range of shapes and sizes than a Chernobyl maternity ward. The sounds goes directly down and then bursts upwards through the floor, like that shitty 80s movie about giant carnivorous worms. Except this sound isn’t picking off its victims one by one. Every person in the place feels the beat wrap around them and is dragged bodily down into the dark.

The girl nearby is dancing solely with her breasts, which from a technical standpoint alone is quite a sight to see. She looks like an Argentine version of Ferris’ sister Joanie, some feisty 80s chick who would punch you out before delivering a sassy one-liner around a wad of gum, all while wearing brightly-coloured leggings and bobby socks. But this is what Argentina does. Argentina holds nothing back. It gives you leopard print and knee-high boots and curly porno moustaches. It gives you Maradona mullets that never went away. It gives you an ever-present crush of humanity bent on a good time. For $4.50 you can get yourself soundly drunk. You make the investment and join the fray. The only way to tackle leopard-print and porno mos is face-first. Away in the corner is a congregating bunch of shirtless dreadlock dudes, bent knees taking them deep into a psy-trance grind, the whole scene heavily reminiscent of a movie called The Quest for Fire that was playing in the hostel. Apparently guys with dreadlocks feel like less of a bland derivative cliché if they all hang out together. There’s no way to resist the waves of human heat. You taste your own sweat from your lips, mixed with the condensation steaming off everybody else. The air inside is just an extension of the greenhouse night outside. Don’t think about how you smell. Don’t think about how you’re ruining your only vaguely clean set of clothes. Don’t think about the trail of garments left by you across the breadth of this continent like some sort of demented op-shop-enthusiast Hansel with a personal teleporter and a poor sense of basic linearity. Tilt your head back, close your eyes, and forget who you are.

On the way home, you fend off the beggars and the sock-sellers and the vague sense of threat. The streets are dark and strewn and breathing, like a tar-scarred strip of lung. The cop cars in this city keep their lights on, so you always know where they aren’t. A week of cocaine and a minute of bus fumes make you sneeze hard enough to take the skin off a camel. Your shirt settles into a dank chill against your skin. The street-strewn rubbish dances with your shoes. There is no-one out there for you, but there is no-one out to get you either.

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