Coronavirus in Argentina | After 70 years of history, the oldest bowling alley in America could close its doors


The doors of Cochabamba 249, in Banfield, have been closed for almost four months. It has been operating there for 70 years. Mi Club Complex, today consecrated as the oldest bowling alley in America. At least three generations of residents of the South Zone passed through the mythical sanctuary that now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, It is going through a crisis that could make it disappear.

Stories of love and lovelessness, epic moments, anecdotes of friendship and irreproachable memories: all that keeps in its corners the complex founded in 1950 by Rubén Mattiauda, when I was only 15 years old. Now, at 85, he looks with pride and affection at the family business that has given 70 people a job for decades and is going through the worst moment in its history. “It is a very expensive structure to maintain. The months pass and the perspectives do not change, ”he told in dialogue with TN.com.ar your son Adrian Mattiauda.

“The situation of all SMEs is critical. In our case, in addition, we were the first to close and we believe that we will be the last to reopen ”, pointed out who runs the bowling alley 20 years ago. “We do not have delivery or sales or parties online. There is nothing that can replace ours, which is the treat with the people”, He affirmed about the possibility of reinventing himself until the pandemic passes.

The Mi Club Complex, the oldest bowling alley in America. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)

The bowling alley opened its doors the last time on March 6 and has never been out of operation for so long. The only history is during the H1N1 flu, when they closed the place for two weeks.

“At this time, our income fell to zero. We only have to prepare some protocols for when it is back and take the situation as well as possible with the payment of salaries, ”explained the businessman.

“It is difficult to reinvent ourselves and do everything on-lineBecause they have to change many customs: ours is social interaction, getting together with friends, sharing a drink. Today it is difficult to think the night without it, “he said.

My Club is part of Banfield’s history and these days, the neighbors feel their absence, especially on Saturdays, when night begins to fall and everything is silent on the block.

A photo of the Mi Club Complex in the 70s. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)
A photo of the Mi Club Complex in the 70s. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)

“We can’t see it from the business side, there is a lot of feeling here. This makes everything more difficult: it is not easy to close something that your old men founded so long ago, ”Mattiauda told this newspaper.

Space owners hope authorities will allow them open as a bar before it is the return of the bowling alleys. “We will adapt by setting large tables and adjusting protocols. That would help us generate at least some revenue. It is an option to start earlier, but it will be very difficult to return “, express.

A historic bowling alley

“Do you remember when we were going to dance at My Club?” It is the phrase that is repeated on the family tables of hundreds of residents of Zona Sur. Grandparents, parents and children share memories at the bowling alley, where hundreds of birthdays, end-of-year farewells, weddings and graduation parties were also celebrated.

A photo of the Mi Club Complex in the 1950s. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)
A photo of the Mi Club Complex in the 1950s. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)

According to Mattiauda, ​​My Club was the first bowling alley in “hook” the music and adopt light sets. “In the beginning, the income was for men’s suits and long dresses for women. Next to the complex was a house that rented shoes, ties, cut hair, and groomed men’s beards,” he said.

There was a time when the neighbors called the mythical bowling alley “The Banfield Civil Registry”. “Many came, knew each other and got married. Almost every Saturday a couple comes before the wedding mass to take pictures because they met there,” he confessed. And he joked: “Yes, we do not have a complaint book.”

The My Club Complex, in Banfield, in August 1969. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)
The My Club Complex, in Banfield, in August 1969. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)

“Over time, the place grew larger. It expanded and built new rooms until it became a multi-space. However, there is a small track within the complex that maintains the essence of the seventies “, counted the man.

There, in that space, the DJ Claudio Daniel Espósito Music has been playing for 35 consecutive years. “I saw things like writing a book”, counted in dialogue with TN.com.ar. “I lived all generations. I went from vinyl, to cassette, to CD and to the computer,” he said.

The historic waiter said the same thing to this media Francisco Trotta, 82 years old, who works at Mi Club for 60: “I have lots of nice anecdotes. I think I could write a book.”

The Mi Club Complex, in Banfield, in August 1969. It was the first bowling alley in America. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)
The Mi Club Complex, in Banfield, in August 1969. It was the first bowling alley in America. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)

For him, bowling was established as “a phenomenon of the Argentine Republic”, but also, it feels like your second home. “I have the satisfaction that they loved me before and now too. Even during the quarantine, there are clients who keep calling me to ask me how I am,” he said.

“Now I feel sadness, worry and uncertainty. At my age, I never thought I could stop working for something like that, “he said. Trotta, like her colleagues, count the days for return.

The My Club Complex today. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)
The My Club Complex today. (Photo: courtesy of My Club)

For his part, the DJ confessed: “It generates terrible sadness for me. I never thought that such a thing could happen. It is a very hard emotional charge. “ Espósito does not know which song he will play first when he returns to the track, but he promises that he will let himself be carried away by the joy of the moment. “Music is a feeling”, Held.

Next July 8 My Club will be 70 years old in the nocturnal movement of Zona Sur and, the celebration that the workers of the place prepared, will have to reinvent itself in times of coronavirus. However, Mattiauda believes that they will not lack the signs of affection from the neighbors who, every year, no matter where in the world they are, send them messages of thanks for the stories they lived in the traditional bowling alley in Banfile. “That affection keeps us on our feet in the face of so much sadness”, confessed.