Buenos Aires Dispatch: Down and Dirty at Dengue Dancing
Lorenzo “Lolo,” Anzoátegui, Ani Castoldi, and Luciano Lasca have that very elusive, very covetable of qualities: a truly authentic style. That’s the force that transformed their Buenos Aires-based night, Dengue Dancing, from a delightfully sloppy downtown happening to the only acceptable place to be on Thursdays. The trio was lucky enough to snap up Gong, an 80 year-old disco den, while it was in between junkie and cheto crowds. Everyone from Che Guevara to Jackie Onassis has set foot in this downtown mainstay, and some of the waiters, clad in baby-blue tuxedos and bowties, look like they’ve been down there as long as the Soviet-issue light machine from 1955.
So far, Dengue is that rare and delicate thing: a club night run by friends who don’t hate each other, where a bevy of DJs come out to dance to each other’s sets while they aren’t in the booth themselves. With magazines from Europe and the States singing Dengue’s praises, it’s a wonder that things are as calm as they remain. What follows, on the eve of their hundredth party, is a relaxed conversation about being weird in Buenos Aires and the future of Dengue Dancing beyond the dance floor.
From top to bottom: Ani Castoldi, Luciano Lasca, and Lorenzo “Lolo,” Anzoátegui.
How did you guys decide to throw a party?
Ani: One day, I was coming back from work and and a guy I knew said, ‘I’m going to a reggae bar, you have to go.’ And so I went to the owner like, ‘Hi, I want to do a party.’ And he is all, ‘okay, you have to come to me next Monday.’ You know situations where you don’t know if someone is going to kill you or if it is going to be alright? I was like, ‘what can I do to win them over?’ So I wore a really short skirt, with heels, and went alone and there are these two seven feet tall Nigerian guys. I said, ‘I want to do a party with DJs and with bands on Thursdays.’ They said, ‘let’s try it, but you have to do this every Thursday.’ So I said ‘sure, sure,’ and then ran home to Lolo and said ‘Lolo! Oh my god! I have to do a party every Thursday night.’
Lolo: From the beginning, it was just super-right. With the post-punk and with everything, it got really new wavey. And then all these people started showing up that we didn’t know, that we’d never seen! That’s what I like, people meeting. Not just sexually, just meeting and doing shit together. I’m really, really happy about this.
Luciano: It’s really important to have a space like that, where people actually like the music.
Ani: When we were meeting we were dreaming about Xanadu. And it really happened!
Lolo: Also, it’s something that is affordable to do, too. Something cheap. Not that Dengue is cheap as it used to be, but still. And all the cool kids drink for free.
And it’s good enough that, when people are attracted to it, they’ll come and pay 10 pesos for a beer.
Lolo: We’ve had shouting arguments about alcohol prices, but Gong sets those. They charge a lot of money on weekends, since old men go there with bimbos and shit.
Ani: We really have a good relationship with the owner, but we cannot fight all the time because of the prices. I’m always saying, ‘you don’t understand, everyone is poor! all the people just come to dance.’ And they’re like, ‘for every three people, only one drinks something.’ And we’re like, ‘we don’t care, we just want them there.’
And now, there are plans for a label. When you launch the label, what will you be doing? Remixing the bands, putting out their records, making sure they have more options?
Lolo: All of the above. First, we want to record and produce the albums. We’ve finished the Blue Cherrys album, that’s going to be our first one. There’s Yilet, Domingo. We want to give everyone a wider audience and really make it possible to travel, to tour.
Ani: Also, the people who are now turning 18 were born in the 90s, and they’re starting to make their own bands. And we want to be there to listen to those bands, because the ideas not might be the most sellable ideas, so we just want them to be able to record. And then, people can listen to them, and then maybe it becomes something bigger.
Lolo: 10 years ago, I was living in Barcelona, working for Rough Trade and Moshi Moshi and XL. The year 2000 was really transitional. Rock sucked, electronic music was progressive or really complicated. And what happened in 2001? The Strokes’ first record came out. And the electroclash thing happened as well; that really changed the disco landscape. So this is the year that it’s going to happen internationally, and locally. So we’re looking for those bands born in 1990.
You know that when people see Dengue, they’re often impressed because it seems quite effortlessly cool, right?
Lolo: Yes, we get told that a lot. It’s like, with the BUTT [Magazine] piece, that guy posted on our Facebook and was really over the top and said “there hasn’t been anything like this in Berlin or Paris or New York for YEARS!” And that was the third Dengue. We didn’t quite know what to do. And again, that’s because of something sincere. People come, they’re cool people. Maybe in the future they won’t come, or more will come.
Ani: We have no idea how it happens. Every Dengue, every Thursday, when it’s early and no one is there yet, we think “oh nobody’s coming.”
Lolo: If we went to Dengue and we weren’t doing the party ourselves, we’d be impressed. And have fun. And that was the whole intention! The first thing at Dengue, people went nuts, and we were like, we just wanted to play what we wanted to play. And we didn’t know if people would dance to that, but we knew we would. And that’s the good thing, to find out that you’re not a single raindrop. You’re not alone! It’s about coming back to the community feel of the scene; you need help to concentrate it.
Photos by Kasandra Lunar and Whiskii