Saturday, May 21, 2011

I don't know the language. I respond with one word answers. I work in a restaurant. I am told what to do by a myriad of faces I can't understand. I come from a different country. I am paid a menial wage. I am patronized. Who am I?

I am an illegal immigrant. I understand the strife of the average illegal Mexican now, surrounded by white faces that patronize and talk down, that order and demand, that think that you have the language skills of a chimpanzee.

I work behind the bar, making cheap drinks for inflated prices at the once jiving Tango Club called El Balcon in the center of San Telmo that looks over the tourist friendly Plaza Dorrego. The shaded square during the day hosts casual diners who hide in the shade from their responsibilities, relaxing over an extended Argentinean lunch, probably lunching on Milanesas or something from the Parilla whilst sipping Fernet or a Gancia Batido. At night, the vibe is a bit more lively.

El Balcon, as told to me by one of the co-owners, was the hottest spot in the mid nineties to come and see a Tango Show in the city, fully booked with reservations every night of the week. El Balcon boasts a National Geographic story with a five page photo spread on Tango, and Pato, the co-owner was interviewed by fucking CNN. Every night the club was filled, the top deck lit the San Telmo sky with fire from the barrels they lit to warm their many guests, and people dined on fine wine and fucking steak.

That was fifteen years ago. El Balcon only opens on the weekends now, unable to afford to run the restaurant/bar every night of the week. After a series of municipality fines and problems with debt, the place struggles to thrive. It is still in the hottest spot. It still is in a great building with a balcony that overlooks Plaza Dorrego, but the pulse slows on Friday and Saturday. The food lacks inspiration and the drinks are overpriced. Who would want to recommend this dying antiquity?

No comments:

Post a Comment