Prince, Madonna, U2, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston… it was new on the dance floor where 80s sequins, shoulder pads and flashy hairstyles and 90s minimalism exuded glamour. When choosing a destination The City at the top of the preferences.
People over 25 went there on Fridays and, if they managed to get in, they would surely come across the most famous personalities of the moment; The 22-23 year olds did not miss it on Saturday, the night of rugby players and sportsmen; and the little ones, impatient to catch a glimpse of adulthood, were welcome at the Sunday morning. At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, New York, or rather The City, was the obligatory meeting point for the nightlife of Buenos Aires. Today his audience has grown and is over 40, 50 or even older. For them, just for them, The City opens its doors every Friday and Saturday and it is possible to activate the emotional memory, to transport oneself to other rhythms, another aesthetic and another way of living at night.
Before electronic music and mega clubs where the only way to meet acquaintances, in the middle of the tumult, is through WhatsApp messages or a location app, The City was the obligatory meeting at the weekend. In the 80s, going dancing meant entering, through a door that often led to a basement, into rooms with reduced capacity where it was easy to meet up with friends and with whoever wanted to be seen. Mau Mau, Afrika, Regine’s and later Le Club stood out at night in Buenos Aires when in 1980 La City burst intowith its capacity of 940 people and its inspiration at Studio 54 in New York.
Forty-two years after its inauguration, “this generation which today is between 40 and 50 years old, when it has to celebrate something, it does so in The City. Twelve women celebrated their 50th birthday a few days ago, it was for them to return to where they spent a good part of their adolescence. They have been coming for thirty years and they keep coming,” he told LA NACION. Review Ricardo Fabre, one of its owners. Every Saturday, an audience of around 50 say they are present and who, at the time, went to the matinee. “Those who were 18 in the 80s are now 50 and they keep coming. Others are already bigger”, calculates Fabre.
After a year and a half of closure due to the pandemic, the City is functioning again, almost normally. Their schedules have nothing to do with those of the clubs which start at dawn. here Saturday evening starts at 10 p.m., lunch in between. The proposal includes four drinks and its price is 2000 pesos. From 11:30 p.m. the doors open for those who just want to go dancing, until 5 a.m. (entrance is 1000 pesos).
The night is long, but there is a rotation of the public. Today Two types of music are heard: on the ground floor the best of the last forty years is played and on the first floor Latin music, such as reggaeton and salsa.. “On Fridays, there are private events. Many reach 40 for women and 50 for men. The agenda is complete until September“says Fabre. Thus, during June, Fridays will be occupied by a part of former rugby players, between 45 and 55 years old; a show with the look-alike of Luis Miguel; and a 50th birthday organized by fifteen men. On Sunday, the doors remain closed.
Although everything is reorganizing after the hardest part of quarantine, the pandemic has changed some things. When no one knew about the coronavirus and quarantine didn’t exist, on Sundays the City opened its doors to the public over 60. Today, if the rest of the days have found their rhythm as before, this is no longer the case on Sunday. “The sixties have not recovered because they are still afraid of contagion. This was cut due to the pandemic and we have not returned. This proposal lasted twelve years, but we have the feeling that the question of the Covid has not been completely overcome”, testifies Ricardo Fabre.
Events with brands are also a thing of the past because they “seek to position themselves with young people, in their twenties”, he adds. It’s no longer La City’s target and it’s easier to find it in Palermo. It is also not open during the week, except for a specific evening which can be organized on a festive evening. Once a month there is a salsa night, which is packed. “It’s a very personal matter. With my wife Valeria we take care of the gastronomy, the bars, the shopping. We are in everything. We are here because people need to see you. It is an added value that someone receives them and welcomes them”, underlines the owner of the legendary disc.
It all started in 1980 and its heyday lasted thirteen years. “The first thirteen years were hegemonic, until 93 when we decided to sell. We recovered it in 2001 and today we are hegemonic in a senior proposal, for clients who have always grown up”, he summarizes. Originally, the owners, in addition to Ricardo Fabre, were his brother Oscar – now deceased, replaced by his daughter Paula – and Mario Falak. “During the Menem regime, Mario got tired of La City and started caring more about the Alvear Hotel. An anecdote ? Menem lived with Zulema in Posadas Street. His relationship with his wife was unstable. When Zulema kicked him out, he went to Alvear. Mario Falak always gave him the presidential suite, ”he says.
A nightclub like City was unheard of in Buenos Aires when it opened. In the late 1970s, nightlife was spent in cramped quarters. Meanwhile, at Studio 54 in New York, a new trend was emerging that would change nightlife forever. Ricardo Fabre visited and even managed to enter the famous nightclub that inspired him to later open La City.
“At Studio 54, there was a line of limousines outside the door, with chauffeurs in tuxedos. They hoped entry would be allowed, and when that happened, a personality accompanied by a spectacular woman was uploaded Meanwhile, on the street, there were four hundred people looking and trying to get in. The door was a spectacle. And inside, multi-millionaires lived with people in costumes like the Village People, with the most famous models in the world and with characters like Calvin Klein.We think: if we can reproduce this in Buenos Aires, it will be a success“, he recalls.
The partners then embark on a campaign to obtain a place large enough to revolutionize the night. Although they would have liked it to be on Alvear Avenue, they felt the location was not important as they would be successful anywhere.. Finally, the chosen location was at 1391 Alvarez Thomas, where a Viel Temperley dealer previously operated. From the moment it opened, New York City was a success… Their secret? A door almost impossible to cross. “On Friday it was impossible to enter, on Saturday there was more rugby and sport and on Sunday morning”, he summarizes.
On Fridays, the entertainment that arrived from events and invitations approached there. Pancho Dotto and his models, Ricardo Piñeiro and his, Guillermo Vilas, Graciela Borges, Zulemita Menem, Rod Stewart, Gabriela Sabatini, Carlos Menem, Carlos Monzón, Alberto Olmedo, Marta Minujín, Susana Giménez, Gino Bogani, Guillermo Cóppola, Diego Maradona , Mauricio Macri, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Diego Santilli, Charly García…. Everyone and from all sectors of culture, sport and entertainment came together. And there were always the paparazzi waiting.
However, there were no requests or complaints regarding the presence of photographers. One night, Carlos Monzón and his rival Miguel Castellini met in La City. They passed each other and asked that the bathroom be cleared and that there be no photographers, so they could go fight there. “They hit each other in the bathroom. He had to win Monsoon on points. There was a chivalrous attitude that the matter should remain between them. And there was no trace of what had happened,” Fabre recalls. Meanwhile, the street was another sight. Every night “we had five hundred people outside who wanted to come in. As a condition, they had to be well dressed and it was almost obligatory to come as a couple. Women have always been fantastic. But if the man was disheveled, he wouldn’t come in. If the man didn’t come in, the woman often left alone,” she recalls.
An old classic? The Halloween parties of the 80s and 90s, with Fiorucci as a sponsor. “These parties are impossible to match. All the characters from Buenos Aires were there. They were parties with unlimited investments. In the 1980s, it was normal for Fiorucci to spend $100,000 on an event.“Says the boss of La City. The Italian brand accompanied its events until 1994. From 1993 and 1994 the star of the City faded and Fabre attributes it to the arrival of electronic music which caused the loss of glamor . And the glamorous nights began to fall behind. “To come here, especially on Friday night, they did their best. It was disappearing because the electronic party was out of control and the nights were more massive,” explains Fabre. Today The City is back, beyond the passing of time, crises and the pandemic. And it is his loyal audience, the usual one, the one who continues to accompany him.