From dreamers and bibliophiles to grunge rockers and artists, Buenos Aires is a thriving city of culture that offers something for everyone. Of course, tango classes and Spanish lessons await the common tourist and expatriate, but we’ve scoured the city for some of the most interesting alternative workshops to try out while you’re in town. Note that though many are about working with your hands, all of these courses are conducted in Spanish, so a basic grasp of the language will help get the most out of them.
Mantras Del Sur
Walking into this bohemian, retail shop is like stepping into a multi-coloured world of love. The converted mechanics garage has a floor made from the refurbished pinewood of a boat pulled out of the Riachuelo, and crocheted clothes and home décor fill the racks and shelves. Inside, Lucia Alvaréz is not only using recycled and natural materials to make fashion eco-friendly, but she is also revolutionising a world that was formally reserved for the above-80 age group. “It’s an energy,” says Alvaréz , as she talked about her project to beautify the city by enveloping trees in crocheted blankets around Buenos Aires. The apparel designer offers technical workshops in appliqués, embroideries and patchwork for the inventive and fashionable, and will help with just about any project that involves a needle and thread.
Angel J. Carranza 1668/79, 3103-2348, mantrasdelsur.com.ar
Frequency and Duration: A weekly 2-hour class, Cost: $250 monthly + materials
Planetario de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires ¨Galileo Galilei¨
To infinity and beyond! Since the South Pole faces the galactic centre of the Milky Way, stargazers and philosophers can see billions of stars more clearly from the Southern hemisphere. In addition to the clearer skies, Argentina´s proximity to the southernmost point on earth also enables an astronomer to see a greater number of circumpolar constellations like the Southern Cross and Carina. In this course offered by the planetarium, Mariano Ribas discusses the new model of the solar system, the eight planets and their moons, the “Asteroid Belt” and the threat of asteroids, the “Kuiper Belt”, Pluto and the “dwarf planets,” theories and revelations about comets, space missions, space exploration, life chances on Mars, extra-solar planets, “Hot Jupiter,” and the chances of extra-terrestrial life. And that´s just the first five classes.
Avenida Sarmiento and Belisario Roldán 4772-9265 planetario.gov.ar/otras_cursos.html
Frequency and Duration: A weekly 2½-hour class, Cost: Free. Hands-on class observation with telescopes subject to favourable weather conditions.
Besos de Vidrio
For the not-too-clumsy hobby searcher, glass art beckons. Although the form is lesser known than its cousins, sculpture and ceramics, this branch of decorative arts has been around since Roman times and is now available to anyone in Buenos Aires who would like to continue on the neo-classical tradition. Surprisingly, glass can be moulded on an artist’s whim, and a weekly workshop details how to cut, polish, shape and colour any lustred surface. Tiffany lamps, mirrors, accessories— if it has vitreous properties you can probably make it here.
Guatemala 5794 4776-6942 www.besosdevidrio.com.ar
Frequency and Duration: A weekly 2-hour class, Cost: $200 monthly + materials
Olivos Custom Guitars
Forget Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster – here you can build our own guitar. Starting from a template that allows the form of a guitar to be replicated onto wood, and then using scaled diagrams, Lucas Rodriguez Fontán walks his students through the entire electric guitar and bass making process. From calibrating the neck to wiring circuits and inputting the bridge and tailpiece systems, Fontán assures that both beginners and techies can build and design their own instrument. Depending on how much time is invested, the instrument-maker estimates that it typically takes between six and eight months to finish a guitar and costs a little under US$1000 total for all the materials and the course.
Córdoba 2965 Olivos 1636, Buenos Aires; 5407-0011, olivoscustomguitars.com.ar
Frequency and Duration: A weekly 4-hour class, Cost: $450 monthly + materials
Understand and Enjoy Borges I and II
In the intricate world of Jorge Luis Borges, animals, memories, dreams and myths coalesce in surrealist circles to form some of the best fiction ever written. The Argentine essayist, short-story writer and poet mastered the narrative form, but also altered it forever by reassigning conventional notions of space and time and interweaving realistic mysteries and profundities into his fantastical works. Through the workshop, Alicia Ardila interprets the profuse symbolism found in the texts and essays, guides readers through Borge’s complex use of language, and assures that the universalist, philosophical ideas of the author become more accessible to all.
Centro Cultural Ricardo Rojas Corrientes 2038, 4954-5521/4954-5523,
Frequency and Duration: A weekly 2-hour class Cost: $200 monthly