The expat: Iván Carrasco

Born: Curacautín, Chile
Lives: Palermo
Education: Advertising degree at UNSP in Sao Paulo
Profession: Co-founder of Hype
Book: Siddhartha
Film: Birdman
Gadget: My laptop

While young love led Chilean Iván Carrasco to study in Brazil, a week-long holiday in Buenos Aires turned into something far more permanent. Returning to Sao Paulo one last time to pack up his bags, the publicist then met English DJ Matt Ashley (Buenos Aires Herald, August 10, 2013). Together the two expats launched Hype, one of Buenos Aires’ most popular weekly parties, and that was seven years ago.

Hype's Iván Carrasco
Hype’s Iván Carrasco

Iván says: “The first time I came to Argentina I was 15, and I came here on holiday with my family in 1998. For us Chileans it was very expensive to visit at the time because the peso was pegged to the dollar and we didn’t have a very good economy back then. We wanted to buy Argentine-made goods but clothes and things like that cost so much!

“We visited Plaza Serrano, and there wasn’t a single bar there 17 years ago. It was very different, no shops, nothing – I remember it perfectly. There were some houses, and a few people.”

Bring on Brazil
Fast-forward a couple of years and the young Iván took the plunge to move to Sao Paulo to get closer to a girl, who had a similar family background to his own.

He says: “My dad was a political exile and lived in Germany during the dictatorship. While he was in Europe, he became very good friends with my girlfriend-to-be’s dad, as they were in the same situation, both men in exile. He is part of an association that unites Latin American exiles and they came to visit us – my girlfriend and I met at my house. She wanted to travel around Chile for a week and so I offered myself up as a guide!

“We started to go out and she stayed on for an extra week before returning to Brazil. And that’s when I went to visit her on holiday for a few weeks. When I got back to Chile, I told my dad I was going to study in Sao Paulo and he said ‘if you do that, you’ll have to forget about me’. That said, once I started my second year at university studying advertising, my dad became more supportive as he saw that I wasn’t just messing about.”

Not only was moving to Brazil a big decision for the young man to take but it meant swapping his small rural hometown, Curacautín, with 8,000 inhabitants for one of South America’s largest metropolises.

“Curacautín is another world, filled with lakes and greenery. It’s two hours from the Argentine border, and similar to Bariloche. Then imagine Sao Paulo, much more expensive, and with distances between places that are enormous. I think there’s even more nightlife there than there is in Buenos Aires.

Believe the Hype
“After that initial one-week holiday that turned into a three-week vacation, I decided I wanted to be in Argentina. I returned to Sao Paulo one last time to pack up my bags and spent the first six months living in a hostel. I then moved to Belgrano, spent two years in San Telmo and for the rest of the time I’ve lived in Palermo. Fortunately, it was quite easy to get work as I had a good degree from a good university, spoke Portuguese and I had a German producer friend who helped me get a job with another producer. I did that for two years and then I met Matt, an English DJ who wanted to start running his own party.

“A friend in common introduced us and we got on well. We both had ideas and contacts, and we started to work on them, and we ended up with Hype. It’s now been seven years since we started running our weekly party together. What’s so great about Buenos Aires is that it makes it easy if you have a business venture. If you’re creative, energetic and enthusiastic, doors open up. If you want to do something, you can. And I really believe there are projects that happen here which would be so much harder to pull off in other countries. We’ve held big events and invited (electric house musician and record producer) Steve Aoki, for example.”

Careful spending
After seven years of hosting the weekly party at Palermo nightclub Kika, Iván notes that the economy has changed with time. “With respect to the dollar, it’s affected the way we organize and invest in events and big international productions. The change in the economy has had a big influence. You have to pay an international DJ in dollars, for example, while people also have a lot less money to spend when it comes to going out. You have to set a low entry fee then sell a lot (of alcohol) inside the venue, and people truly don’t have the cash. Maybe they have 200 or 300 pesos to spend but they really look after them, and choose very carefully what they do with it. Maybe they’ll go out tonight, maybe tomorrow, or perhaps they’ll wait for the weekend.

“Hype takes place on a Tuesday and I believe it’s the trickiest night of the week, even more so than a Monday. In the early days, we aimed our party at expats and tourists and that’s who would come to our parties, but more Argentines now come.”

Besides running Hype, Iván is also setting up a long-term project in Brazil with his family, and freelances for local production companies. He adds: “A producer will call me every three or four months and I’ll spend a week working intensively on marketing or advertising for them. It will be a Sunday to Sunday, 24-hours-a-day thing, pretty much.”

Palermo living
While he previously resided in Belgrano and San Telmo, Iván has made his home in Palermo over the past few years. “I live on a really peaceful boulevard in Alto Palermo. Only the people that live on it walk down there and there aren’t any buses passing through. I have everything close by and most of my friends live in the neighbourhood. If I want a bit more excitement, Santa Fe Avenue is two blocks away, as is the shopping mall. Palermo is also the heart of Buenos Aires’ nightlife and I can walk anywhere, five, 10 or even 20 blocks and be exactly where I want.

“I love going out to eat – there’s such great diversity which I think is hard to find in other cities around the world. I go out with friends to bars such as Magdalena’s Party or Frank’s or to a parrilla such as Don Julio. It’s a secret circle!

“Most of my friends are foreigners, from the UK, the US, Italy, Peru, Brazil and Mexico – there are lots of Mexicans here. Buenos Aires is a very cosmopolitan city and there’s more culture here than there is in Chile. There are so many exhibitions and museums, you can see anything you want.”

Although he moved away from Chile at the tender age of 18, 12 years on and Iván still longs for some home cooking. He says: “I miss my mum’s food, such as pastel de choclo and other rustic dishes from the countryside, which is where I’m from. In fact, our food is very similar to southern Argentina’s, to be honest.”

And as for his most Argentine characteristic, Iván says he is always running late. “When you start living here, it just hits you – and I can’t avoid it! Being late now is just normal for me. Six means 6.30 and if I’m going to be late, I always let people know. But the truth is I never used to be like that!”

Buenos Aires Herald, March 7, 2015

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