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The Rock-itt : January 2011
B uenos Aires, it‟s the largest city in Argentina, located on the banks of the Rio de la Plata. Largely built by European immi- grants it has the feel of Barcelona with maybe a touch of Paris and Rome. I‟ve been to BA on two occasions the first as far back as early November 1992. That first visit was 10 years after the end of the Falklands War and, as a Pom I was still expecting that there would be a few prob- lems with the locals. Apart from a huge billboard on the way out of the airport stat- ing “The Malvinas are ours”!! (Malvinas is the name the Argentinians use for the Falklands) my trip couldn‟t have been more pleasant. The general attitude was that the Government had wanted to flex it‟s muscles in 1982 and the people were forced to go along with it. It was hardly an inconsequential matter though 649 Argen- tinians lost their lives along with 257 British troops, but as my travel experience tells me Governments fall out whilst generally the people of the World get on with life and each other! The 1992 trip was a business trip; I was at the time Promotion Manager for Queen and Joe Cocker at EMI Music. There was a music Festival in the City and Brian May, Queen‟s guitarist was doing a solo gig one night with Joe Cocker doing his show the night after. I was the lucky guy taking a British TV crew over to see what reaction they would get from an Argentinian audi- ence. Obviously being aligned with these luminaries may have given me a rose- tinted view of Argentina. The only problem we did encounter was that Joe, who is a big soccer fan wanted to go and see Boca Juniors play at the Bombanera Stadium in BA. It was thought by our hosts that such a recognisable (British) face in the crowd may cause a little trouble so Joe was per- suaded out of going. Good news for me because I got to go in Joe‟s place along with his manager. W e were taken to our seats and told to try not to talk too loudly in English but to stay put after the game and we would be collected. The game was against Estudiantes, the noise was fantas- tic, it was a very dirty game which Boca won 1-0. W e were collected as promised at the end, but on our way out witnessed a massive fight between the two sets of fans which was ultimately sorted out by a cavalry charge from the Police. Both Joe‟s and Brian‟s shows were at an- other football stadium, Velez Sarsfield in the W estern part of Buenos Aires; it‟s the home ground of Club Athletico Velez Sarsfield. There were over 35,000 fans each night and not one hint of trouble. The locals were so pleased that the bands had made the effort to come to Argentina to play and it helped the continued healing between the countries. The Falklands problem has not really gone away, it surfaces from time to time, hardly surprising given that only recently new oil fields have been discovered off the Falk- lands. The islands are 480 kms east of Argentina. Imagine if the Argentinians owned Lord Howe Island and they found oil there! So almost 20 years on I found myself trav- elling to Buenos Aires again. Self-funded this time, damn! Coming out of Pistarini Airport Buenos Aires after a 13 hour flight I climbed into a cab and like greeting an old friend the Billboard exclaiming “The Malvi- nas are ours” was still there! The cab driv- ers drive like I expect Sydney cabbies will drive in about 10 years‟ time, completely mad, Best to keep your eyes straight ahead as your own personal Mad Max heads for the City. The journey passes through the poorer parts of the capital and there‟s no hiding the fact that there are some pretty alarming slums just by the side of the motorway. The City itself is a very friendly place, with strong traditions, great architecture and a fabulous nightlife. BA is divided up into districts known as Barrios each one with its own personality. Barrio Boca, unsurprisingly is home to the Boca Juniors football team and whilst a funky, tourist hot spot during the day turns a little heavy at night, the concierge at our hotel said that we could go there at night if The man himself, Joe Cocker sending me into hysterics. He‟s a great man. La Bombanera home to Boca Juniors.